Bihar's minister accuses Niti Aayog of changing “goal post” by adopting poverty index


After relentless campaigns seeking special status for Bihar, state’s Parliamentary affairs minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary, who also holds the education department portfolio, has now accused the Niti Aayog of changing the “goal post” by adopting the multi-dimensional poverty index and doing away with the old method of determining poverty index to undermine Bihar’s noticeable progress. “If Bihar’s progress on economic and social fronts are not visible despite the conspicuous change, it is all the more reason to grant it the special status. The state has been demanding it and the Niti Aayog index only goes on to justify the demand. Earlier, economic criteria were the sole factor, but now social indicators have been included to decide the index. Bihar’s achievements on social indicators is all too apparent, and it is also acknowledged by the Niti Aayog, but it still remains at the bottom. This means Bihar needs more,” he said.

The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative measure poverty by considering various deprivations experienced by people in their daily lives, including poor health, insufficient education, and a low standard of living. India was ranked 62nd among 107 countries in the index released last year. This was evident even during the reactions to the Union Budget. While the CM was effusive in his customary praise for the budget, his party leaders sang a different tune, reiterating their demand for special status and going to the extent of terming it “disappointing for the State”.

While speaking on the motion of thanks on the President’s address, Lalan Singh strongly raised the issue once again, though it was RJD MP Manoj Jha, who during his speech in the Rajya Sabha, tried to corner the NDA by giving the credit to RJD for the demand.

A senior party leader said that Nitish Kumar’s patience was his strength and that is what he was displaying. “Nothing can happen in the party without his consent and nothing can go unnoticed to Nitish Kumar as well. He knows his party has been reduced in size and he knows what it would take to resurrect it. Special status demand is neither new nor its importance has lessened a wee bit. The only thing that has happened is that the Centre has changed its yardsticks. Despite apparent differences and discomfort, the CM knows the need for the alliance as much as the BJP, and the demand should not be seen as the growing chasm in the NDA. It is a demand in the state’s interest and the JD(U) will keep raising it,” he added.

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