NEW DELHI: At a key meeting of government think-tank Niti Aayog today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked “Team India” and said “the Governing Council has approached complex issues of governance… in the spirit of cooperative, competitive federalism”. The comment comes in the backdrop of four Chief Ministers extending support to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been on a sit-in protest at the house of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal for almost a week. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh’s N Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan and Karnataka’s HD Kumaraswamy met PM Modi on the sidelines of the meeting to seek resolution for what they called a “constitutional crisis”.
In his opening address at the NITI Aayog meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Chief Ministers of states have played a key role in policy formulation, through sub-groups and committees on issues such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Digital Transactions, and Skill Development.
The recommendations of these sub-groups have been incorporated by various ministries of the Union government, PM Modi said.
The day-long fourth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was attended by chief ministers, union ministers and top bureaucrats. It was meant to discuss crucial policy matters and the centre’s flagship schemes.
“I along with the Hon’ble CMs of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala have requested Hon’ble PM today to resolve the problems of Delhi government immediately,” tweeted Mamata Banerjee.
The four chief ministers, who were denied permission to meet Mr Kejriwal on Saturday, have accused the Centre of stoking the crisis and “destroying” the federal structure.”If this is happening in the capital, then what will happen in other states?” Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday.
Mr Kejriwal, who is camping out at the waiting room in Lt Governor’s house with three of his ministers, skipped the meeting. They are demanding an end to a “strike” called by bureaucrats in response to an alleged assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash in February.
Hitting out at the four chief ministers, senior BJP leader Vijay Goel on Saturday said the leaders were in the national capital to attend the NITI Aayog meeting and not to do politics. “It doesn’t suit them,” he said.
The sit-in by Arvind Kejriwal has become the latest rallying point for opposition parties, which, enthused by the recent successes in by-elections in many states, are relishing the idea of a united front against the BJP ahead of 2019.
Mr Kejriwal has received support from most opposition parties — the big exception being the Congress, which is at loggerheads with AAP in the state. Irked AAP leaders have called the Congress the “B-Team of the BJP”.
The Prime Minister said in the current financial year, states are receiving over 11 lakh crore rupees from the centre — up from 6 lakh crore from the last year of the previous government. The target, he said, was universal coverage in seven important welfare schemes: Ujjwala, Saubhagya, Ujala, Jan Dhan, Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Suraksha Bima Yojana, and Mission Indradhanush.