Millennium Post

CM to skip Niti Aayog meeting

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that she would not be attending the Niti Aayog meeting scheduled on June 15. She termed it as "fruitless" as she believes that the body does not have any financial powers to support state plans.

"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's letter to Modi read.

It further stated: "The experience of the last four-and-half-years we had with the Niti Aayog, brings me back to my earlier suggestion to you that we focus on the Inter-State Council (ISC) constituted under Article 263 of the Constitution, with appropriate modifications, to enable the ISC to discharge its augmented range of functions as the nodal entity of the country. This will deepen cooperative federalism and strengthen federal polity." She also suggested that the National Development Council which has been given a quiet burial may also be subsumed within the broadened constitutional body of the ISC.

It may be mentioned that when the formation of a new institution replacing the Planning Commission was announced on August 15, 2014, Banerjee had expressed her surprise at the 'unilateral' announcement "which was not preceded by any discussion with the Chief Ministers of the states for their views".

Banerjee had wrote a letter proposing to the Prime Minister that instead of setting up a new body in place of the Planning Commission, "…it may be more appropriate to assign the decision making responsibilities of the Planning Commission to the Inter State Council which is a constitutional entity under Article 263 of the Constitution formed by a Presidential Order on May 28, 1990."

The letter reiterated that the Niti Aayog that was formed on January 1, 2015, was not assigned with any financial powers to assist the states and was not entrusted with the Planning Commission's need assessment theory. "Furthermore, the new body also lacks the power of supporting the annual plan of the states," it added.

In support of her views, she pointed out that a former Chairman of the Finance Commission of India, in a recent research paper has suggested that Niti Aayog be given financial powers as a part of efforts to address regional imbalances.

Banerjee had skipped the Niti Aayog meetings earlier too expressing her displeasure over the dissolution of the Planning Commission and the creation of the new structure.

"Niti Aayog has fixed four to five agendas. There is hardly any platform for the states to voice their opinion. So it is useless to be present," Banerjee said responding to a poser about her decision in not attending the Niti Aayog meeting.

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