Eight Chief Ministers are skipping the NITI Aayog Council meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi today. Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has cited health reasons for not attending, and Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has not given any specific reason for his absence.
Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the PM 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”, Mr Mann in his note has said there’s no use in participating in the meeting until pending issues have been addressed.
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, are also skipping the meeting.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who maintains a calculated distance from both the NDA and the Opposition, was also absent from the meeting. According to the Chief Minister’s Office, Mr Patnaik did not attend the meeting as he has a prior programme.
The BJP said the missing Chief Ministers did not bring the voice of the people to a crucial planning meeting, where over a hundred issues were listed to e discussed.
“Eight Chief Ministers today did not attend the NITI Aayog meeting. 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.
आज नीति आयोग की बैठक में 8 मुख्यमंत्री नहीं आए। नीति आयोग देश के विकास और योजनाओं के लिए बहुत ही महत्वपूर्ण है। इस बैठक के लिए 100 मुद्दे तय किए गए हैं, अब जो मुख्यमंत्री नहीं आए हैं वो अपने प्रदेश की जनता की आवाज यहां तक नहीं ला रहे हैं। मोदी विरोध में आप कहां तक जाएंगे?
– श्री… pic.twitter.com/iAJMPyHEaN
— BJP (@BJP4India) May 27, 2023
Government sources have said boycotting NITI Aayog Governing Council Meetings by Chief Ministers is equal to boycotting the state’s development. More than a hundred important issues will be discussed at the Governing Council Meeting (GCM), and states not being represented will lose out, sources said.
“Roadmap to be laid down on following issues: Viksit Bharat@2047, (ii) Thrust on MSMEs, (iii) Infrastructure and Investments, (iv) Minimising Compliances, (v) Women Empowerment, (vi) Health and Nutrition, (vii) Skill Development, and (viii) Gati Shakti for area development and social infrastructure. People of the states whose CMs boycott the meeting will not be able to reap the benefits of discussions and decisions on minimising compliances, Gatishakti, modern infrastructure, MSMEs, and Skill Development. There is a rich legacy of action taken and citizen welfare from the roadmap laid down by previous GC meetings,” they 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.
PM Modi is chairing the eighth governing council meeting of NITI Aayog on Saturday on the theme of ‘Viksit Bharat @2047: Role of Team India’ at the new Convention Centre in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.
As the chairman of NITI Aayog, PM Modi presided over the meeting. He will deliberate on issues related to health, skill development, women empowerment and infrastructure development, with an aim to make India a developed nation by 2047.