Mamata refuse to attend NITI Aayog meet

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has refused to attend a meeting of the governing council of the NITI Aayog in Delhi on June 15, arguing it is “fruitless” for her to attend the meeting of “a body that has no financial powers.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to chair the June 15 meeting, the first of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s second tenure. Officials had earlier said the main agenda of the meet would revolve around agriculture, water management in drought-affected areas and national security.

“Given that the NITI Aayog has no financial powers and the power to support state plans it is fruitless for me to attend the meeting,” the chief minister wrote in a 3-page letter to PM Modi. She also made out a case for giving the think-tank financial powers as suggested by a former chairman of the Finance Commission.

“The experience of the last four and a half years we had, with the NITI Ayog 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 modification, to enable ISC to discharge its augmented range of functions as the nodal entity of the country,” she said.

“I now find that senior officials of the NITI Aayog themselves are making public statements that should be given some powers in allocating development expenditures to state — a role that Planning Commission had played earlier,” Mamata Banerjee added in the letter.

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