‘Won’t attend fruitless meeting’: Mamata vs Modi over NITI Aayog

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that she will not participate in the NITI Aayogs Governing Council meeting on June 15 in Delhi. In a letter written to PM Narendra Modi, Banerjee said that the NITI Aayog has no financial power to aid the state-run welfare schemes. Given that the NITI Aaayog has no financial powers and the power to support state plans it is fruitless for me to attend the meeting, she said in her letter. The fifth meeting of the NITI Aayogs Governing Council will take place on June 15 to discuss various issues related to the countrys growth. The Council includes all Chief Ministers, Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories, several Union ministers and senior government officials. The June 15 meeting will be presided over by PM Narendra Modi. This would be the first meeting of the Governing Council, the apex body of NITI Aayog, after the new governments installation at the Centre May 30. The council is expected to discuss important issued including water management, agriculture and inspirational district programme. Besides, the council will also deliberate on security issues in districts impacted by Naxals in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Mamatas decision to turn down an invitation to attend June 15 meeting comes amidst growing enmity between the BJP and Banerjees Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. The leaders of both the parties have been at the loggerheads ever since the schedule of the Lok Sabha election was announced. Both the parties have been accusing each of instigating political violence in the state and targetting their volunteers. While BJP has alleged over 50 of its workers have been killed in incidents of political violence being orchestrated by the TMC, Banerjee has denied all charges and accused the saffron party of dividing people on religious lines. The tension between BJP and TMC escalated last week after Banerjee turned down an invitation from the government to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister for the second term and the new Council of Ministers. Banerjee said that the BJP was trying to gain political mileage from the constitutional event by inviting the families of BJP workers killed in West Bengal. The BJP pulled off a stunning win in Bengal, bagging 18 of the 42 seats, 16 more than its 2014 tally. The TMC won 22 seats, 12 less than its 2014 tally. The NITI Aayog was formed on January 1, 2015, replacing the Planning Commission of India. The Governing Council of the NITI Aayog is the highest decision-making body which meets at a regular interval. The first meeting of the Governing Council took place on February 8, 2015.