The ₹1.25 lakh-crore special package for Bihar has become a bone of contention between Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Central government.

The CM on Wednesday reasserted that ₹1.08 lakh crore or 87 per cent of the special package was a “mere repackaging of old schemes”.

The BJP aggressively countered his claim with Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari saying that Kumar was “frustrated” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for Bihar. Gadkari challenged the CM to a televised debate on the special package.

“For ten years, Nitish Kumar asked the Congress government at the Centre for a special package for Bihar. He demanded ₹50,000 crore. But when PM Modi announced the historic ₹1.25 lakh crore package, he calls it ‘repackaging’. We were expecting a mature politician like him to at least acknowledge the PM’s gesture. Instead, he has turned to nitpicking and finding faults,” said Gadkari.

“We were initially surprised by the CM’s response. But now we know that he is clearly frustrated. In his frustration, he has taken to misleading the people of Bihar. On one hand, he says it is repackaging of old schemes, on the other, he claims that the schemes have not been announced and that there is no plan. There is inherent contradiction in his critique,” Gadkari added.

Nitish Kumar, on his part, said the new schemes in the package only amount ₹Rs 6,000 crore. The rest, he said, are repackaged old schemes. “...At the best, the so called ₹1.25 lakh crore package will not provide anything more than ₹10,368 crore as additional or incremental resource to the State. This too in the absence of a defined timeline or disbursement modalities hardly means anything to the state,” the CM said in Patna.

Trashing the special package announced during the Prime Minister’s visit to Bihar on August 18 as nothing but the narration of “a fairy tale to the people of Bihar”, Kumar said it was aankhdon ka mayajaal (illusion weaved from statistics).