Why Nirmala Sitharaman was 'Absent' at PM Modi's Meeting with Economists at NITI Aayog


Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the country's top economists at NITI Aayog in an annual exercise by the government on Thursday ahead of the Union budget 2020-2021. At the meeting, PM Modi is said to have discussed the current state of economy in the country and measures that can be taken to revive growth and curb the economic slowdown.

The meeting was attended by Road Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari, Home Minister Amit Shah, commerce minister Piyush Goyal, Rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, CEO Amitabh Kant and other senior officials of the think tank.

Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets top economists of the country, at Niti Aayog, ahead of the Union Budget. Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Nitin Gadkari also present pic.twitter.com/fFqqTRqmtQ

— ANI (@ANI) January 9, 2020

However, what seemed to catch the eye of netizens was that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was absent from the meeting.

Where is @nsitharaman

— Doctor Doctor (@icedtea28) January 9, 2020

Where is the economic star ? pic.twitter.com/s4sOEREMT5

— Niraj Bhatia (@bhatia_niraj23) January 9, 2020

It may indeed seem confusing to some as to why the Finance Minister wasn't present at a meeting that was, well, about the economic state of the country. However, as is apparent from past trends, it doesn't seem mandatory for the Finance Minister to attend.

Every year, the Prime Minister meets a group of economists and is accompanied by some of his Cabinet ministers. Last year too, PM Modi held a similar meeting which was attended by 45 economists before the Union Budget was presented. The Finance Minister wasn't present then either.

Had a fruitful interaction with economists and other experts on the themes of macro-economy and employment, agriculture and water resources, exports, education, and health.

The inputs received were insightful and will benefit our growth trajectory. pic.twitter.com/AXW7oXCHlm

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 22, 2019

Nonetheless, 2017 and 2018, according to reports, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had attended such meetings, usually held before the Budget was presented. These meetings also saw the attendance of bureaucrats and economists and had a similar agenda, like the one held today.

In other news, Sitharaman will be presenting the budget on February 1, which will be focused on improving the economic state of the country.

(With inputs from PTI)