Home/ News / India/  PM Modi to Chair Niti Aayog meet today; Kejriwal along with five CMs opt-out

As 21 Opposition parties opt to boycott the May 28 inauguration of the new Parliament building in New Delhi, six chief ministers from non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states will also refrain from attending the 8th governing council meeting of Niti Aayog on Saturday.

Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who serves as the chairman of Niti Aayog, the council comprises state chief ministers and lieutenant governors (LGs) of Union territories. The commission is set to deliberate on the roadmap for a "Developed India" across eight crucial areas, including MSMEs, infrastructure and investment, regulatory simplification, women empowerment, health and nutrition, skill development, and social infrastructure, as stated by government think tank officials.

Among the chief ministers who will be absent from the meeting are Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi and Bhagwant Mann of Punjab from the Aam Aadmi Party, Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal representing the Trinamool Congress, Nitish Kumar of Bihar from the Janata Dal-United, K Chandrashekar Rao of Telangana from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, and MK Stalin of Tamil Nadu from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

It is anticipated that chief ministers from the Congress party, which governs four states directly, will be present at the meeting.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on Friday, Kejriwal said that he was “boycotting" the meeting in protest against the “undemocratic and unconstitutional" May 19 ordinance that restored control over services in the national capital to the Centre under the LG, effectively nullifying a Supreme Court order that handed over control of services, barring police, public order and land, to the elected government.

“After an eight-year struggle, the people of Delhi won in the Supreme Court, and in just eight days, you overturned the Supreme Court’s order by passing an ordinance. So, if any officer of the Delhi government fails to work, the elected government chosen by the people cannot take any action. How will such a government function? It is being made completely powerless," Kejriwal said in the letter.

He wrote that the action amounted to a “brazen disregard" for the Constitution, and a mockery of cooperative federalism. “People say we should not attend tomorrow’s NITI Aayog meeting. Hence, I can't attend the meeting tomorrow," the Delhi CM added.

Bhagwant Mann expressed his decision to abstain from the governing council meeting, citing the Union government's disregard for farmer-related concerns. AAP's Punjab chief spokesperson, Malvinder Singh Kang, justified the decision, citing issues such as the withholding of Rural Development Fee (RDF) amounting to 4,000 crores, reduction in RDF rate, cessation of mandi tax, delayed GST compensation, and the transfer of sanctioned projects to other states.

In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress leaders said that CM Mamata Banerjee will not be at the meeting. However, they said she proposed the names of finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya and chief secretary HK Dwivedi as her representatives. But the Centre replied that only chief ministers could attend, they added.

“Niti Aayog is a vague organisation, unlike the Planning Commission which it replaced. Can anybody remember what decisions were taken at the last Niti Aayog meeting and what was implemented? The Centre takes all its decisions without consulting the states," TMC’s state vice president Jay Mazumdar said.

In Patna, senior members of the Bihar cabinet said that Nitish Kumar expressed his inability to attend because of “prior commitments", and said that they were yet to hear back from the Union government if someone else could take his place. “The state government has written a letter to the Government of India requesting to depute some senior minister in his place but we are yet to get any response," said Bihar finance minister Vijay Kumar Chowdhary.

As per officials from the Telangana Chief Minister's office, K Chandrasekhar Rao, the president of Bharat Rashtra Samiti and Telangana's chief minister, will not be present at the meeting due to a prearranged meeting with Arvind Kejriwal in Hyderabad on Saturday. This meeting is part of Kejriwal's campaign against the services ordinance, during which he has been engaging with leaders of Opposition parties to seek their support in preventing the ordinance from being passed as a bill in Parliament.

Tamil Nadu officials have informed that Chief Minister MK Stalin will be absent from the meeting as he is currently on a three-day visit to Singapore and Japan.

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Updated: 27 May 2023, 07:37 AM IST
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