Seven Chief Ministers have decided to skip the NITI Aayog Council meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Saturday. Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot cited health reasons for his absence, while Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not provide a specific reason.
Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced his boycott of the meeting in a letter to the Prime Minister on Friday. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the recent ordinance by the BJP-led Centre, which effectively revoked the Delhi government’s executive control over the bureaucracy. Kejriwal criticised the Centre for undermining cooperative federalism in the country.
Punjab’s Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also expressed his decision to boycott the meeting, stating that the Centre was not paying attention to Punjab’s interests. In the previous meeting, he raised concerns regarding the Rural Development Fund, stubble burning, and farmers’ issues, but claims that the Centre did not address these matters.
Mann referred to the meeting as a mere photo session and believes that participating in it would be futile until the pending issues are resolved.
Three other prominent opposition leaders, Telangana’s K Chandrashekar Rao, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, who have been working towards forming a united opposition front to challenge the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, are also skipping the meeting.
According to reports, government sources have expressed their view that Chief Ministers boycotting the NITI Aayog Governing Council Meetings is equivalent to boycotting the development of their respective states. They argue that more than a hundred important issues will be discussed at the meeting, and states that are not represented will miss out on crucial discussions and decisions.