Tarun Gogoi among 9 Congress CMs to boycott meet on land bill
New Delhi, July 15: Apart from nine chief ministers from Congress-ruled states, Tamil du's J Jayalalithaa, West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and Odisha's veen Patik abstained themselves from a NITI Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister rendra Modi here on Wednesday.
The stalled land acquisition bill was on the agenda of the chief ministers’ meeting with NITI Aayog.
Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal, Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and Tripura’s Manik Sarkar, however, were among the non-NDA chief ministers who participated in the meet.
As Congress chief ministers including Tarun Gogoi of Assam did not participate in the meet, the party’s spokesperson RPN Singh told IANS: “Our chief ministers have not gone to attend the meeting of NITI Aayog as the party’s stance on land bill is clear and it is against the legislation brought by the tiol Democratic Alliance government.”
Union Fince Minister Arun Jaitley took a dig at Congress chief ministers who did not attend the meeting. “Those who chose to boycott must introspect whether not attending the meeting is in tune with the spirit of federalism. You can come and express altertive opinion,” he said.
The Congress is opposed to the land acquisition bill of the tiol Democratic Alliance government which seeks to amend the land bill ected by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2013.
Meanwhile, all the chief ministers of Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP)-ruled states attended the meeting, including Rajasthan’s Vasundhara Raje, Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Chhattisgarh’s Raman Singh.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who run coalition governments with the BJP in their states, were also among those who attended the meeting.
Other prominent opposition chief ministers who attended the meeting were Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Tripura’s Manik Sarkar.
Modi has convened the second meeting of the government council of NITI Aayog on Thursday in which the contentious land acquisition bill is expected to be discussed.
The meeting is being seen as an attempt by the NDA government to break the deadlock over the controversial bill that is facing a strong opposition from the Congress and some other opposition parties.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment Bill, 2015) has been referred to a joint committee of both houses of Parliament under the chairmanship of the BJP’s SS Ahluwalia.
The NITI Aayog Governing Council, which comprises of all the Chief Ministers and Lt Governors of Union Territories, is headed by the Prime Minister. Besides the land acquisition bill, the council is likely to deliberate on issues like poverty, health and centrally-sponsored schemes.
The council is also likely to review the work done by three sub-groups of chief ministers and two task forces under the NITI Aayog. The other issues which may come up for discussion include Goods and Services Tax (GST) and devolution of taxes between the Centre and states as per the recommendations of the 14th Fince Commission.
The government had constituted three sub-groups of chief ministers under the NITI Aayog on Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), Skill Development and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan which are led by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu idu respectively.
The two task forces on poverty and agriculture are being headed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Pagariya. These sub-groups and task forces are working on the responsibilities entrusted to them and are in the process of submitting their reports.
The other two sub-groups on Skill Development and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan have sought extension till August 15 to submit their reports. The source said the reports of the task forces on poverty and agriculture could be tabled during the meeting for perusal of the council.