Mamata reasoned that she wanted an "Inter-State council, a constitutional entity created under Article 263 of the constitution" rather than the Niti Aayog as a replacement of the Planning Commission
New Delhi: In the latest Modi-led central government versus Mamata-led Bengal government saga, the Bengal chief minister has announced that she will not be attending the Niti Aayog meeting in the capital on June 15.
The Bengal chief minister, who has been at loggerheads with the central government, has raised objections alleging that the new body has no financial power. A fiery Mamata demanded that the Niti Aayog be shut and in its place, the old Planning Commission be brought back, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What are Mamata's objections?
In her own words, Mamata said, "I wrote you a D.O. letter dated December 4, 2014, expressing my concern regarding the dissolution of the Planning Commission and the creation of a new structure. Since the Planning Commission had played a significant role in working with the states and had supported the restructuring of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, the states had more flexibility". Mamata reasoned that she wanted an "Inter-State council, a constitutional entity created under Article 263 of the constitution" rather than the Niti Aayog as a replacement of the Planning Commission. Citing lack of authority of the Niti Aayog, Mamata said she has decided to stay away from the meeting on June 15.
Why the move is more political than technical
The proposal for Niti Aayog, a new body replacing the Planning Commission was announced on August 15, 2014, soon after Modi gained power at the helm. Mamata's TMC, like any other state, had continued to do business with it, till this letter. While the technicalities of the power of Niti Ayog or the lack of it is a separate debate, the timing is interesting.
Mamata fought a bitter poll against the BJP and stopped BJP's rath yatra in the state citing "intel report". The face-off became more blatant with Mamata refusing Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath's chopper to land at pre-designated helipads.
Tripura CM Bipladb Deb's government had to write to the Bengal government complaining about a lack of security for the BJP leader while campaigning. Biplab Deb's office also alleged that he was stopped from conducting a roadshow. Even after the shocking result in Bengal, where BJP fetched 18 seats out of 42, the Jai Shri Ram controversy continued to hound Mamata and BJP branded her "Anti-Hindu". If seen in context, this move by the Bengal CM seems more natural and political as opposed to raising a technical issue.
Niti Aayog's website describes the organisation as "Radically redefining Centre-State relationship, NITI Aayog has, for the first time, ensured that all States take the lead in providing policy interventions to the Union Government. A platform for cooperative federalism, NITI Aayog facilitates the working together of the Union and States as equals."
But now Mamata Banerjee has accused this very institution of lacking cooperative federalism, and worse financial authority.
Last Updated 1:07 PM IST