A war of words has erupted between the chief ministers of Bihar and Gujarat. Bihar's chief minister Nitish Kumar has slammed Narendra Modi for taking potshots at the state's slow socio-economic growth. The altercation began with Modi saying that caste politics has ruined states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Hitting back, Nitish has said that Modi should look at the conditions in his own state before criticising others.
For the last several years, Modi has been successful in projecting his "vibrant Gujarat" as a role model of economic growth and himself as ''Vikas Purush". Though one must give due credit to Modi for his effective skills in making projections, one must also critically analyse this "growth story of Gujarat" based on facts and figures. Regretfully, as one examines the facts since Modi came to power in Gujarat in 2001, the story appears to be hollow and, at times, contrary to what is being projected.
First, about the rate of economic growth. During 1995-2000 and 2001-10, Gujarat increased its annual rate of growth from 8.01% to 8.68%. But so is the case with other major states such as Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. In fact, Gujarat was ranked second after Rajasthan (8.34%) in the first period and third after Uttarakhand (11.81%) and Haryana (8.95%) in the second period. What is remarkable, Bihar and Orissa, the two most backward and poverty-stricken states, have also shown growth pick up from 4.70% and 4.42% in the first period to 8.02% and 8.13% in the second period. Even smaller states like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have registered growth of 11.01% and 8.96%, respectively.