Absence of Odisha CM in NITI Aayog meeting draws criticism

Bhubaneswar:  Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s absence from the fourth meeting of the NITI Aayog Governing Council held in New Delhi today drew flak from various quarters . While many non-BJP Chief Ministers including Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu and HD Kumaraswamy attended the meeting, CM Naveen chose to give it a miss. Instead, the Odisha government sent its viewpoints on issues likely to be discussed at the meeting, informed sources.

The Opposition came out criticizing Patnaik’s decision to not attend the governing council meeting. OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik questioned why the Chief Minister who had attended the meeting last year did not attend it this year. He further alleged the Chief Minister is not keen to voice Odisha’s problems on the right forum.

“It is the highest forum where discussions  on economic and other issues of States can be held. Naveen Patnaik not attending the meeting in a republican system of government is not acceptable. If issues bothering people of Odisha are not tabled in this forum, where else will he raise them? Will Naveen Patnaik ask the MPs tomorrow to not attend the Parliament? It is difficult to understand him as he had earlier avoided the Karnataka visit along with BJP Chief Ministers,” said Niranjan.

Union Minister Jual Oram questioned what the Chief Minister is trying to express by boycotting Niti Aayog, Ayushmaan Bharat and special package for Akankhya districts.

“Not attending the Niti Aayog meeting is unconstitutional, but since he has conveyed it in writing, it may be pardoned to some extent. He has taken oath as a Chief Minister but is gradually forgetting his constitutional responsibility and insted focusing only on his party affairs,” said Jual Oram.

In response to the allegations, BJD MP and spokesperson Pratap Deb said, “NITI Aayog is a constitutional system, and it is not that the Chief Minister has not attended the meeting earlier. He has sent his viewpoints in writing as per the agenda. It is not mandatory to attend the meeting in person.”

“One can smell political arrogance from the words of Jual Oram,” he added.