West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao will not attend the fifth governing council meeting of the Niti Aayog chaired by PM Narendra Modi on Saturday.
While Mamata Banerjee had earlier refused to attend a meeting of the Niti Aayog, saying it is “fruitless”, her Telangana counterpart said to be busy with preparations for the inauguration of an irrigation project in the state.
Mamata Banerjee conveyed her decision not to attend the Niti Aayog meeting in a letter to PM Modi. In the three page long letter, Mamata Banerjee said it is “simply useless” to attend the meet as its agenda is fixed by the Centre without consulting the states.
Mamata Banerjee, however, didn’t clarify whether any other minister of her cabinet would attend the meeting on her behalf or not.
While talking to reporters, Mamta Banerjee said the Planning Commission was more effective than NITI Aayog and sought its return. She has said that the Planning Commission had a bottom-up approach where the body would hold regular meetings with state governments to solve problems and discuss resource mobilisation.
Banerjee said , “I have also written a letter to like-minded chief ministers of opposition parties raising the issue of planning commission be brought back.” Also added, “Given the fact that the Niti Aayog has no financial powers and the power to support state plans, it is fruitless for me to attend the meeting of a body that is bereft of any financial powers.”
Mamta said, “The experience of last four-and-half years we had with Niti Aayog brings me back to my earlier suggestion to you that we focus on Inter-State Council constituted under Article 263 of the Constitution, with appropriate modifications to enable ISC to discharge its augmented range of functions as the nodal entity of the country.”
K Chandrashekar Rao, on the other hand, is said to be busy preparing for the inauguration of an irrigation project. Both the leaders had also skipped the swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi.
This would be the first meeting o the Niti Aayog since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance registered a landslide victory in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections. The meeting will be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
According to a statement issued by the Niti Aayog, issues like rain-water harvesting, drought situation and relief measures, transforming aspirational districts as well as security-related issues with a specific focus on Left Wing Extremism-hit districts are expected to be discussed at the meeting.