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Why attend fruitless Niti meet, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee asks PM Narendra Modi

The body has no financial powers to support state plans, says Bengal CM

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Why attend fruitless Niti meet, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee asks PM Narendra Modi
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday declined the NITI Aayog’s invitation to attend a meeting of its Governing Council to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 15, saying it is “fruitless” as the body has no financial powers to support state plans.

Her decision to skip the meeting of the top plan panel comes days after she stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 30 citing as “untrue” claims by the BJP that 54 of the party workers were murdered in political violence in Bengal.

Mamata conveyed her decision not to attend the Niti Aayog meeting in a letter written to the prime minister.

“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,” Banerjee wrote.

She also suggested that focus should be shifted to the Inter-State Council (ISC) to deepen cooperative federalism and strengthen federal polity.

“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 Constitution, with appropriate modifications to enable ISC to discharge its augmented range of functions as the nodal entity of the country,” she said.

“This will deepen cooperative federalism and strengthen federal polity. May I also reiterate that the National Development Council, which has been given a quiet burial, may also be subsumed within the broadened constitutional body of the Inter-State Council,” the chief minister said.

PM Modi is set to chair the fifth meeting of the Niti Aayog’s Governing Council on June 15 to discuss various development issues.

Banerjee, however, didn’t clarify whether any other minister of her cabinet would attend the meeting or not.

Earlier too, Banerjee had skipped meetings of the policy think-tank, expressing displeasure over the dissolution of the Planning Commission and creation of a new structure. She had sent West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra to represent the state at the meeting last year.

In her letter, Banerjee said the formation of Niti Aayog was ‘unilateral’, without any talks with chief ministers.

The TMC supremo’s decision comes amid heightened political tussle between the TMC and the BJP, after the latter won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, only four less than TMC’s 22.

STANDING UP TO BJP-LED CENTRE

  • During LS poll campaign, PM Modi had repeatedly dubbed Mamata as ‘Speedbreaker Didi’ accusing her of creating development hurdles.
     
  • Mamata even refused to attend PM Modi’s review meet on Cyclone Fani in Bengal last month. She dubbed it as photo-op option for Modi. 
     
  • Bengal opted out of several Central programmes during Modi 1.O, be it Ek Bharat, Sresth Bharat and ones directed towards education sector.
     
  • Ambitious projects like Ayushman Bharat and PM KISAN are currently not operational in Bengal. Mamata even pulled up schools for playing ‘Mann ki Baat’.

BJP can’t force us to attend the meet, it is the prerogative of the chief minister to decide. We don’t need lessons from communal BJP on this.
Jyotipriyo Mullick, state Food Supplies Minister

Mamata’s decision only reflects she is yet to accept defeat and want to politicise everything. Only she has problem with NITI Aayog.
Dilip Ghosh, Bengal BJP president

‘Anti-national’ CM scuttling growth: BJP

Lashing out at CM Banerjee over her decision to skip Niti Aayog meeting, the state BJP said the TMC chief was behaving like an “anti-national” and trying to scuttle the growth of Bengal.
“She is affecting the development of the state. She should be ashamed of it,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said. 

BJP state vice-chief Jay Prakash Majumdar said Banerjee’s move was against the interest of the nation. “When the country is moving forward under the leadership of PM Modi, Mamata is the only one opposing it. Even Congress CMs are attending. She is behaving like an anti-national,” he said.

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