Opposition fumes over Naveen’s decision to skip Niti Aayog meet

Bhubaneswar: With the Centre and State already at loggerheads over several  issues, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s decision to skip the 4th Governing Council Meeting of the Niti Aayog scheduled to be held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at New Delhi tomorrow has stirred a fresh political row here.

While several important issues like doubling of farmers’ income, Ayushmaan Bharat, special package for Akankhya districts, Mission Indradhanush and 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi are likely to be discussed at the meeting, questions are now being raised over CM Naveen Patnaik’s such move.

As there is no provision of representatives, it is certain that no minister from Odisha will represent the state at the meeting.

Keeping this mind, the State government has already sent its viewpoints on the issues that are likely to be discussed in writing to the Niti Aayog, sources said.

Talks are doing rounds that at a time when the Union Government and the State is at loggerheads with each other over Niti Aayog’s suggestions on appointment of collectors in Akankhya districts, State government’s announcement of its own scheme to counter Centre’s healthcare yojana, Mahanadi row and paddy MSP issue, the CM is trying to play safe.

While the opposition parties criticised CM Naveen for skipping the meeting, BJD has clarified that the decision is just a prerogative.

The BJP has alleged that at a time when the Centre is keen for the development of Odisha, the State Government does not want so.

“It is a protocol to attend the different forums of the Centre despite differences. Those who are grappling with their own failures are just trying to make such excuses,” said Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Similarly, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik said “Naveen babu is setting a new precedent. At Niti Aayog meeting, several issues pertaining to State’s interest is discussed and not attending the meet is not justified and is not a good sign for the democracy.”

On the other hand, BJD leader and Finance Minister Sashibhusan Behera said “The meeting was earlier slated for June 16 but was later rescheduled for June 17. Chief Minister attending or not attending is a prerogative and not mandatory.”

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