'Special Status' Costs 50+ seats For BJP?

'Special Status' Costs 50+ seats For BJP?

Sounding an alarm to the NDA government ahead of the Lok Sabha election results tomorrow, Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar said that his party was committed to the special category status and that it would pursue the matter even though the Centre declared it a closed chapter based on the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.

"Since 2006, the SCS has remained important on our agenda and it has been endorsed by both the houses of the state legislature. There is people's support also for the demand. We raised it strongly before the Finance Commission too. We feel that a state like Bihar is a fit case for granting SCS," he said.

His statements come at a time when Odisha too has demanded Special status recently and raised concern on the issue. The noise from Andhra Pradesh on special status has been creating enough headache for the BJP for quite sometime. On the whole, the demand for Special Category Status could put BJP on a sticky wicket if the NDA falls short of majority where it requires the desperate support of its regional allies.

In Bihar, which is a strong ally of the NDA, if BJP at the Centre falls short of the half-way mark, then JD(U) could use special status as a weapon to negotiate with the saffron party. Similarly, Biju Janata Dal in Odisha which has remained neutral, could again make a strong pitch for special status for Odisha, if BJP gets less numbers and could use it for a trade-off. And, YSR Congress Party which has been stating that it will support any party at the Centre that grants Special Status to AP, may use this as a weapon if it has to support the BJP at the Centre.

So, what this also means is that it could cost the BJP a total of over 50 Lok Sabha seats from Odisha, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh if the saffron party-run government does not get the required number of seats at the national level and needs to reach out to smaller, regional allies. Given that BJP has already clarified that it will not grant special status to any state, in case of smaller numbers for the party at the Centre, it may have to re-consider its stand on special status if it requires support.

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