New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog today. The meeting, which will be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, will be the first such meeting under the new Modi government.
An official statement said the five-point agenda of the meeting includes aspirational districts programme, transforming agriculture and security-related issues with focus on Left-wing extremism districts.
The Governing Council includes ministers of Finance, Home, Defence, Agriculture, Commerce and Rural Development, NITI Aayog vice-chairman, CEO and members.
It reviews the action taken on the agenda items of the previous meeting and also discusses future developmental priorities. The first such meeting was held in 2015 where the Prime Minister had laid down the key mandates of NITI Aayog.
Those attending would be Chief Ministers, Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories, Union Ministers and senior government officials. However, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee won’t be able to make it.
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal would be representing his state. Meanwhile, Banerjee has refused to attend the meeting, saying it was “fruitless” as the NITI Aayog has no financial powers to support state plans.
Seeking the return of the Planning Commission, Banerjee wrote to the PM about NITI Aayog’s lack of “financial power”. “Given the fact that the NITI Aayog has no financial powers to support state plans, it is fruitless for me to attend the meeting of a body that is bereft of any financial powers,” Banerjee reportedly wrote in her three-page letter to the PM.
Recently, the PM approved the reconstitution of NITI Aayog. Bibek Debroy was dropped and Home Minister Amit Shah was included as an ex-officio member.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Banerjee would be skipping meetings of the policy think-tank. She said she had objected to the decision of the Planning Commission being dissolved in 2014. It was abolished by in 2015.
“State governments have no voice in this system. They can’t even discuss issues. It is NITI Aayog that decides the agenda and which discussions can be held. So what is the point of attending such a meeting,” she said. She said she had forwarded the letter to some Chief Ministers of Opposition parties.
She said proposals for the Planning Commission came from the grassroots of every state. Interestingly, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had spoken about replacing NITI Aayog with a leaner Planning Commission if the Congress came to power post-Lok Sabha elections.