AS expected , post poor performance by her ruling TMC in the just concluded Lok Sabha poll against surging BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to skip Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed NITI Aayog meet in Delhi on June 15.In a three-page letter addressed to PM Modi, WB CM said there is no scope for the states to raise their issues in the Niti Aayog which has replaced Planning Commission. Planning Commission since Independence chaired by successive PMs was more powerful. It had much more power than the Niti Aayog, she added and said it was “fruitless” for her to attend the meet as the body does not have the power 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.” The chief minister has 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 a quite burial, may also be subsumed within the broadened constitutional body of the Inter-State Council,” the chief minister said. Modi is set to chair the fifth meeting of the Niti Aayog’s Governing Council to discuss various issues regarding the country’s development. All the Chief Ministers, Governors, Lieutenant Governors, concerned union and state ministers and officials are also among the invitees. Earlier, she had stayed away swearing-in ceremony of the Union Council of Ministers headed by Modi. She had earlier also skipped meets of the New Delhi headquartered policy think-tank expressing displeasure over the dissolution of the Planning Commission. Political analysts say with the saffron party bagging 18 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the Lok Sabha elections reducing her role among the national opposition leaders and the BJP making sustained efforts to oust her from power in 2021 assembly election , her decision to boycott the NITI Aayog meet is not surprising . The Niti Aayog meet is significant as it will be held ahead of the presentation of the Union and Railway Budget for 2019-2020 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament. She also among the invitees. Meanwhile, she is busy restructuring her party and support base as media reports suggest continuation of unabated post poll violence in the state (edited by Pranab Kumar Chakravarty with inputs from varied sources).
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