Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to chair the eighth Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog on Saturday, which will deliberate on several issues including, health, skill development, women empowerment and infrastructure development, with an aim to make India a developed nation by 2047. Six chief ministers, all from states not ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or its allies, have decided to skip the meeting today.
The Governing Council, the apex body of NITI Aayog, includes all chief ministers, lieutenant governors of Union Territories, and several Union ministers. The Prime Minister is the Chairman of NITI Aayog.
The chief ministers who have decided not to attend the meeting include Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann, both Aam Aadmi Party leaders. Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Bihar CM and Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar, Telangana CM and Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao, along with Tamil Nadu CM and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president MK Stalin will also skip the meeting chaired by PM Modi.
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal on Friday announced a boycott of the Niti Aayog meeting, saying if “cooperative federalism becomes a joke, then it is not worth joining the meeting”.
He made the announcement in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where he also urged him to allow the non-BJP government to also work.
In his letter, Kejriwal said, “Tomorrow is the meeting of the Niti Aayog. The job of the Niti Aayog is to promote cooperative federalism and prepare the vision for India. However, the way in which democracy has been targeted and non-BJP governments are being brought down and not allowed to work, then it is not the vision for new India and not in the spirit of cooperative federalism.”
He claimed that in the last few years, a message is being given that if any state chooses to elect a non-BJP government then it would not be “tolerated”.
Citing the May 11 judgement of the Supreme Court, he said, “After a long fight of eight years, the people of Delhi won in Supreme Court and then an ordinance was brought by your government to negate the top court orders.”
Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party colleague and Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann is staying away from the meeting because the “Union government was ignoring issues related to farmers”.
“The Centre has withheld Rural Development Fee (RDF) amounting to Rs 4,000 crore, reduced the RDF rate, stopped mandi tax, delayed goods and services tax (GST) compensation, and shifted some sanctioned projects to other states,” AAP’s Punjab unit said.
West Bengal will not have any representative at the Niti Aayog meeting as the TMC government’s request to send the state finance minister and the chief secretary was “turned down” by the Centre, which “insisted” that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee may attend the event. Banerjee has already decided not to attend the eighth governing council meeting of Niti Aayog.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said he would not be able to attend because of “prior commitments”, while Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin will be skipping the meeting as he is on a three-day trip to Singapore and Japan.
According to Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao’s office, the Bharat Rashtra Samiti president will also not attend the meeting since he has a scheduled meeting with Kejriwal in Hyderabad on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Chief ministers of four states- Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh- ruled by Congress, the largest Opposition party, directly are expected to attend the meeting.
With inputs from News18