NITI Aayog is a significant platform to evolve a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of states, the BJP said.
NEW DELHI – Citing different reasons, chief ministers of 11 states on Saturday abstained from the NITI Aayog Council meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot cited health reasons for not attending, and Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not give any specific reason for his absence.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the prime minister on Friday, announcing his boycott of the meeting over the Centre’s recent ordinance, and charged that cooperative federalism in the country was being turned into a “joke”. The controversial ordinance by the BJP-led Centre effectively cancels a May 11 Supreme Court order that granted the Delhi government executive control over the bureaucracy.
Punjab’s Bhagwant Mann has written a note to the Centre saying it’s not paying attention to Punjab’s interests, which is why he will boycott the meeting. In the previous meeting, in August last year, the chief minister had raised the issues of Rural Development Fund (RDF), stubble burning, and farmers’ concerns which he says the Centre paid no attention to. Calling it a mere “photo session”, Mann in his note has said there’s no use in participating in the meeting until pending issues have been addressed, media reports said.
Three other prominent opposition leaders – Telangana’s K. Chandrashekar Rao, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar – who have been trying to stitch together a grand united opposition front to counter the BJP in next year’s Lok Sabha elections, also chose to skip the meeting.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who maintains a calculated distance from both the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the opposition, was also absent from the meeting. According to the Chief Minister’s Office, Patnaik did not attend the meeting as he has a prior engagement.
“Eleven chief ministers didn’t attend the meeting. But several other chief ministers did. I have seen similar attendance in previous NITI Aayog Governing Council meetings. They might have their personal reasons,” NITI Aayog CEO B.V.R. Subrahmanyam was quoted as saying by ANI news agency.
The BJP said the abstaining chief ministers did not bring the voice of the people to a crucial planning meeting, where over a hundred issues were listed to be discussed. NITI Aayog is a significant platform to evolve a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of states, it said, adding that it’s an important body for determining the entire policy framework and the road map for the development of the entire country.
“NITI Aayog is very important for the development and planning of the country. 100 issues have been fixed for this meeting, and the chief ministers who have not come are not bringing the voice of the people of their state here. How far will you go to protest against Modi?” BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut has said if non-BJP chief ministers are boycotting the meeting, it means the Centre is not treating them properly. “Whoever is not obeying the Centre, the NITI Aayog is not listening to their demands,” he said.
Photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a group photo with Ministers, Chief Ministers, Lt Governors and officials during the 8th Governing Council meeting of Niti Aayog in New Delhi on Saturday. — IANS