PM Modi chairs NITI Aayog meet; KCR, Mamata Banerjee give a miss

Madhuri Adnal

New Delhi, June 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog today at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

An official statement said the five-point agenda of the meeting includes aspirational districts programme, transforming agriculture and security-related issues with focus on Left-wing extremism districts.

This would be the first meeting of the planning body after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) formed a new government at the centre after a stellar win in the recently concluded Lok Sabha election.

Farm distress, drought and security concerns in Maoist-affected districts will be high on the agenda.

The meeting will be attended by chief ministers, lieutenant governors of union territories, union ministers and senior government officials.

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is also expected to raise the demand for special status to his state. Mr Kumar, a BJP ally, has considerable presence in the Lok Sabha. He has been pressing for the status for a many years now.

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal would be representing his state.

However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not attend the meeting, saying it is "fruitless" as the Niti Aayog has no financial powers to support state plans. Her Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao too skipped the meeting. Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh was also present at the meeting citing health reasons.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time Banerjee would be skipping meetings of the policy think-tank. She said she had objected to the decision of the Planning Commission being dissolved in 2014. It was abolished by in 2015.

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Farm distress, security to be discussed at Niti Aayog's June 15 meeting