Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, on Saturday accused the federal government for preventing him from attending the Niti Aayog conference, where he wanted to discuss matters like the caste census and the state's unique status.
The JD(U) leader described the event as an effort to “change history by those who had made no contributions to the freedom struggle” and announced that his party will not attend the opening of the new Parliament building on Sunday.
On the eve of a ceremony commemorating the passing of the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Kumar told reporters, “When I got the schedule of the Niti Aayog meet, I requested a modification in the dates as it conflicted with the celebration here.
The seasoned socialist politician, who now has the Congress as an ally, claimed that he and his family have revered Pandit Nehru since they were little.
“However, they (the Centre) refused to consent to changing the time of the Niti Aayog meeting. I would have been able to attend the meeting if they had even agreed to schedule it in the afternoon.
“We submitted a couple additional names that we thought might symbolize the state, but these were also rejected. Bihar was therefore left unrepresented, according to Kumar.
“I was shocked to read in today's newspapers that five other states had been denied attendance at the Niti Aayog meet for one reason or another,” he said.
“Had I been at the conference, I would have without a doubt brought up the topic of the caste census and highlighted the legal challenges that the survey we conducted at the state level faced. After all, we only conducted the poll after the Center said that it would not conduct a caste census but that states might do so at their discretion.
As a supporter of “opposition unity,” Kumar said, “I would also have raised the long-standing issue of a special status (for Bihar) and the need for greater central assistance to poor states.”
In response to inquiries about the opening of the new Parliament building, which the opposition parties are refusing to attend because they want President Droupadi Murmu, not Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to do so, he stated, “First of all, there was no need for a new Parliament building.”
Kumar has previously served in the Lok Sabha for a number of times.
“Those in power today have no respect for history,” he stated, without specifically addressing the BJP or Modi. This is an effort to rewrite history by people who did not participate in the battle for independence.
When questioned about the elimination of Rs. 2,000 notes after supporting demonetisation in 2016, Kumar said, “I struggle to see what they are attempting to accomplish. They ought to have introduced new ones after nullifying the previous Rs. 1,000 notes. But they also made Rs. 2,000 notes available. They are now removing them as well. Only they are qualified to declare their intentions.
“The media too is not unfettered now and therefore cannot ask probing questions about the government's steps like it used to do,” the chief minister of Bihar stated.
Regarding the much anticipated gathering of opposition parties, which is anticipated to take place in Bihar, Kumar said that he had addressed the matter with the majority of opposition leaders and would provide the precise date when the time was right.
Mamata Banerjee, Kumar's counterpart in Bengal, has requested him to organize a gathering of the Opposition parties in Patna at the end of May.