Mamata, Naveen, Jayalalithaa skip Modi’s NITI Aayog meet

New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) Apart from nine chief ministers from Congress-ruled states, Tamil Nadu’s J. Jayalalithaa, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik abstained themselves from a NITI Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra 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-National Democratic Alliance (NDA) chief ministers who participated in the meet.

As Congress’ chief ministers did not participate in the meet, the party’s spokesperson R.P.N. 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 National Democratic Alliance government.”

Union Finance 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 alternative opinion,” he said.

The Congress is opposed to the land acquisition bill of the National Democratic Alliance government which seeks to amend the land bill enacted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2013.

Meanwhile, all the chief ministers of Bharatiya Janata 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 S.S. Ahluwalia.

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