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JD(U) Demands Special Package for Bihar, Sanjay Jha is Working President

JD(U) Demands Special Package for Bihar, Sanjay Jha is Working President

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 29: The Bihar ruling party the Janata Dal (United), whose support is vital for the Modi 3.0 government at the centre to stay in power, on Saturday demanded the state be accorded special status and sanctioned special package for development.

A resolution to this effect was passed at a meeting of the party’s national executive held in New Delhi on Saturday which also appointed its Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Jha as the working president. Mr Jha has been close to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and is friendly to the BJP and his efforts is seen as having been instrumental in the JD(U) re-joining hands with the BJP. Mr Kumar is currently the party’s national president.

The meeting held under the chairmanship of the Bihar chief minister was attended by the top leaders of the party. The party emphasized the longstanding need for Bihar to be granted special status, highlighting economic and developmental disparities.

Addressing the media after the meeting, a senior JDU leader stated, “The demand for special state status for Bihar is not new. It is a crucial step towards accelerating Bihar’s growth trajectory and addressing the state’s unique challenges.” Giving Bihar the special status and accelerated economic support was believed to be the main condition on which the JD(U) agreed to support the Modi government without bargaining got key ministerial berths.

The resolution also underscored the necessity of safeguarding Bihar’s reservation quota, which was recently increased to 65 percent. The JDU proposed that this quota be included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to shield it from judicial scrutiny, ensuring its uninterrupted implementation. The Patna High Court had recently struck down the enhanced quota as it was violating the 50% cap approved by the Supreme Court.

“Our national party president has entrusted a big responsibility to me by appointing me as the working president of the party. We will try to work with ally BJP, maintaining more coordination,” Mr Jha told media persons in Delhi after his appointment.

He recalled the Bihar that was when Mr Kumar took over as the CM 19 years ago. “What sort of Bihar did Mr Kumar take 19 years ago?” Mr Jha said, adding, “…whatever growth and development has been done in Bihar in the last 19 years is because of its own resources.” “Despite 19 years of regime, there has been no anti-incumbency against Mr Kumar in the State and this was reflected in the just-concluded Lok Sabha election result,” Mr Jha said, showering praise on Mr Kumar.

When asked about the JD(U)‘s resolution seeking special category status or a special package for Bihar, Mr Jha expressed the hope that the demand would be met. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always paid attention to Bihar and I do hope that the party’s demand for special category status or a package for the State will be met,” he said.

However, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, in a post on social media platform X, wondered if the demand would be forceful enough. “Would (Bihar) chief minister dare to pass such a resolution from state’s cabinet as well? Would chief minister of Bihar put this demand forcefully?” Mr Ramesh said.

Regarding recent controversies, the party national executive also expressed deep concern over alleged irregularities in the NEET examination and called for a thorough investigation. “It is imperative to restore the credibility of such crucial examinations and uphold the trust of students and parents in the fairness of the process,” it said.

Mr Jha is also the JD(U)‘s floor leader in the Rajya Sabha. Hailing from Jhanjharpur in Bihar’s Madhubani district, he was earlier with the BJP and joined the JD(U) in 2012. He unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election on a JD(U) ticket from the Darbhanga parliamentary constituency against the BJP’s Kirti Jha Azad. Later, he was sent to the Bihar Legislative Council, and served thrice as Minister of State in the Water Resources Department in governments led by Mr Kumar. He is also considered the JD(U)’s upper caste Brahmin face.

Mr Jha is also said to have been instrumental in bringing the JD(U) back to the BJP’s fold in January this year to form a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in the State again. When in the BJP, Mr Jha was close to the late senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley who, party sources recalled, introduced Mr Jha to Mr Kumar. Party sources said Mr Jha was chosen for the post of working president of JD(U) as he “maintains a good relationship with both the BJP and the JD(U).” The ruling alliance partners have joined hands and snapped ties several times in Bihar since November 2005, when Mr Kumar first became the Chief Minister of the State.

Bihar’s political circles are also rife with speculation that State BJP president Samrat Choudhary, too, will be replaced soon from his post. Recently, senior State BJP leader and former party MP Ashwini Kumar Choubey, in an oblique reference to Mr Choudhary, had said “imported leaders” were “never acceptable” to him. Mr Choudhary was formerly with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The names of party MLA and leaders Sanjeev Chaurasia and R.C.P. Singh are doing the rounds for the State party president’s post. Mr Singh, a former JD(U) national president, was earlier a close confidant of Mr Kumar for several years but later joined the BJP and has remained in political oblivion ever since Mr Kumar and his party re-joined hands with the BJP in January.



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