Double trouble for Modi: At Niti Aayog, Nitish, Naidu seek Special Category Status for Andhra, Bihar

In a rare gesture, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday supported the Special Category Status (SCS) request of Andhra Pradesh CM Chandra Babu Naidu in the NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting, a move which surprised all. Kumar also raised similar demand for Bihar, news agency ANI reported citing sources. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee extended support to Naidu and requested not to penalise the performing states, the news agency reported. Nitish Kumars support to the demands made by Naidu was taken as a surprise as he is a part of the ruling NDA government in Centre and Bihar. On the other hand, Naidus Telegu Desam Party and BJP have been at loggerheads over the issue of special category status and even ended their ties with each other earlier this year over the issue. Meanwhile, the prime minister was also seen meeting Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on sidelines of NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting today. During the meet, PM Modi said that the challenge now before the government is to take the economic growth rate to double digits. In his opening remarks, Modi assured the chief ministers of flood-affected states of providing all central assistance to deal with the situation. The prime minister further observed that the Indian economy has grown at a healthy rate of 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017-18. Modi said the Governing Council was a platform that could bring about historic change in the development of the country. The prime minister said that council has worked in the spirit of cooperative, competitive federalism. Modi also said that heads of states had played a key role in policy formulation, through sub-groups and committees on issues such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Digital Transactions and Skill Development.