The Bihar government on Monday said it has dropped the demand for special status for the state, reported the Hindustan Times.

Bihar’s Planning Minister Bijendra Yadav said the state government was tired of asking for the status. “But now we are seeking special packages for all sectors,” he added.

The special status category is given to states that face various disadvantages, including hilly and difficult terrain, economic and infrastructural backwardness, strategic location along international borders and low population density.

It was introduced in 1969 after the central government acknowledged that several states were more disadvantaged than the others.

Bihar has been demanding special status ever since mineral-rich Jharkhand was carved out of the state in 2000, according to PTI. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had been at the forefront of demanding the category and had made it an election agenda during the state Assembly elections, including the polls held last year.

Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance, which is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP-led Centre, however, has not accorded the status to Bihar yet.

On Monday, Yadav told reporters that the state government cannot keep raising the demands indefinitely.

On the state government’s stance, the Congress said that it exposed the “duplicity” of the Janata Dal (United).

“Now it is clear that special category status was just a political stunt for JD(U),” Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said. “It never meant business. We will expose the party before the people.”

Meanwhile, Yadav objected to Niti Aayog’s manner of ranking states on the index of sustainable development goals after Bihar was positioned last on the think tank’s 2021 report.

According to the think tank, sustainable development is defined as the progress “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Niti Aayog ranks states’ agility to meet various goals related to poverty, hunger, quality of education, gender equality, economic growth and climate protection, among others.

Yadav said his government has asked the think tank to change the way it evaluates progress of a state.

“The state registered remarkable growth in 10 out of 15 SDG index as compared to last year,” he said. “But there are some areas, which the state can’t compete with other states owing to its natural limitations, for which the state requires a special package.”

The minister alleged that the Niti Aayog relied on unrealistic data to evaluate the state on the percentage of the population living below the poverty line.

“The state can’t help improve on the index for quality employment and economic development based on the number of automated teller machines (ATMs), as it depended on the discretion of banks,” Yadav said .

He added: “Moreover, the index that assesses the state based on the percentage of the forest cover to development was not justifiable. The state did well when assessed on the index of change in forest cover, which was done away within the latest assessment.”