PM calls upon CMs to work as ‘Team India’

Eleven Chief Ministers did not participate in NITI Aayog meeting

May 27, 2023 12:53 pm | Updated May 28, 2023 03:07 am IST - NEW DELHI

PM Narendra Modi with Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and administrators of various States and UTs during the 8th Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog, in New Delhi, on May 27, 2023.

PM Narendra Modi with Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and administrators of various States and UTs during the 8th Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog, in New Delhi, on May 27, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the eighth Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog on Saturday, said the Centre and the States would have to work as “Team India” to realise the objective of a “Viksit Bharat (Developed India)” in 2047, even as several Chief Ministers kept away from the event.

Mr. Modi chaired the meeting which was attended by CMs and Lieutenant-Governors representing 19 States and six Union Territories.

The CMs of 11 States, including 10 from States not ruled by the BJP, did not participate, citing various reasons.

Also read | Delhi CM says will skip NITI Aayog meet, to call on KCR today for support on ordinance issue

The NITI Aayog meeting comes a day before the inauguration of the new Parliament building that is being boycotted by 20 Opposition parties in a coordinated move.

The Prime Minister said NITI Aayog could play a critical role in helping the States to develop their strategies for the next 25 years and align the same with the national development agenda. He urged the States and Union Territories to work with the Aayog so that the country could take a quantum leap towards achieving its vision for the “Amrit Kaal”.Mr. Modi said NITI Aayog was taking up multiple initiatives for strengthening cooperative and competitive federalism like the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) and Aspirational Blocks Programme (ABP). Both the programmes showcased the power of working together as Centre, States and districts, and the impact of data-driven governance in improving the lives of common citizens at the grassroots.

The Prime Minister stressed the need for the States and the Centre to promote “Shree Anna” in the International Year of Millets. He also deliberated on the need to work towards water conservation through the “Amrit Sarovar” programme. He spoke about the importance of maintaining fiscal discipline at the State level. He also urged the States to proactively use the “Gati Shakti” portal not only for infrastructure and logistics but also for local area development and creation of social infrastructure.

Speaking about the G-20 meetings being held in different parts the country, Mr. Modi said while the G-20 presidency had brought glory to India on the world stage, it had also provided States the opportunity for global exposure.

He emphasised the importance of skilling people with a view to meet global requirements; supporting the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; developing the tourism potential of the country; easing compliance at the State level, including decriminalisation of minor offences; and creation of “Ekta Malls”. Mr. Modi highlighted the significance of women-led development and also spoke about ending the menace of tuberculosis by 2025.

The CMs and L-Gs gave various policy suggestions and also took up issues requiring Centre-State cooperation. Some of the key suggestions and best practices highlighted by them were from areas like adopting green strategies, need for zone-wise planning, tourism, urban planning, agriculture, quality of workmanship and logistics.

As CMs of several States not ruled by the BJP did not participate, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said their stance were “anti-people” and “irresponsible”. “You will get more opportunities to oppose Modi. But why are you causing harm to the people of your State?” he asked at a press conference.

But the Opposition leaders blamed the Centre for not being flexible in accommodating their requests. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had asked for permission to send a representative Minister but the request was reportedly turned down by the Centre. Her counterpart from Bihar, Nitish Kumar, too said that a request to change the timing of the meeting or sending a representative was not agreed to by the Centre.

“We sent a few other names who could represent the State, which too was turned down. So, Bihar remained unrepresented,” Mr. Kumar said, adding that he would have raised the issue of caste-based census had he attended.

Telangana’s K. Chandrashekar Rao boycotted the event as he had hosted Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann for a meeting in Hyderabad. Later, they addressed a joint press conference on the issue of the Centre bringing an ordinance. Mr. Mann had earlier written to the Centre to protest against what he called “discriminatory” attitude and demanded the release of ₹3,600 crore of rural development funds.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik cited prior commitments to give the NITI event a miss. A top source in the BJD government said since Mr. Patnaik would complete 23 years as CM and four years in his fifth term on May 29, he was busy overseeing various activities.

Tamil Nadu CM M.K. Stalin couldn’t attend because he is away on an official tour to Japan and Singapore. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, however, didn’t cite any reason. Among the four Congress-ruled States, Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh), and Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu (Himachal Pradesh), attended the day-long meeting. However, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot gave the event miss, citing health reasons.

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah also couldn’t participate as he had to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the newly inducted Ministers as part of his Cabinet expansion.

A press note from Mr. Baghel’s office said that he had raised the issue of refund of ₹19,000 crore higher share from the Centre for Centrally-sponsored welfare schemes, better allocation of coal and iron-ore for local MSMEs and the setting up of solar power plants in 10 aspirational districts.

The Himachal Pradaesh CM’s office also said that Mr. Sukhu urged the Centre to issue directions to the Pension Funds Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) to return ₹9,242 crore deposited under the New Pension System (NPS).

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