Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday states need to work together for what he calls a vision to create a “New India”, addressing a meeting of the Niti Aayog’s governing council that was skipped by chief ministers Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal — two of his staunchest critics.
The Niti Aayog is the country’s top-most policy making body, and its governing council has among its members the Prime Minister and all chief ministers of the country.
Sunday’s meeting was called to discuss a ‘15-year vision document’ that would lay down the roadmap for India’s growth, economically and socially.
“The NITI Aayog is working on a 15-year long term vision, 7-year medium term strategy, and 3-year action agenda… This effort needs support of states,” PMO quoted Modi as saying in his opening statement.
The country is trying to push its GDP growth to upwards of 7.5% after it slipped to 7.1% in 2016-17 from 7.9% a year ago, due to the demonetisation drive in November.
Among those efforts is the rollout of a new indirect taxation regime, the GST, which the PM referred to on Sunday to drive home his point about federal cooperation.
“Consensus on GST will go down in history as a great illustration of cooperative federalism,” Modi said. “GST reflects the spirit of one nation, one aspiration, one determination.”
The Prime Minister also called for discussions on a plan to hold simultaneous elections be carried on.
Save for Banerjee and Kejriwal, Sunday’s meeting was attended by most of the other CMs.
“West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal could not come to attend the Governing Council meeting today at Rashtrapati Bhavan,” news agency PTI quoted a source as saying.
Kejriwal, however, sent deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia to represent Delhi, the source said.
According to the unidentified source, Prime Minister Modi had refused to allow anyone but the CMs and their deputies to attend the deliberations.
From opposition-ruled states, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami were at the meeting.
In addition to the CMs, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Suresh Prabhu, Prakash Javadekar, Rao Inderjit Singh and Smriti Irani also attended the meet.
Appreciating state and central ministers, Modi said, “Team India has once again assembled today to discuss and reflect on ways to prepare India for changing global trends”.
“The meeting today would be an opportunity to exchange views on policies and implementation”.
The PM said the government, private sector and civil society need to work in sync for the country’s development.
“States can also contribute to the policy formulation,” he said referring to e-NAM, the online national agriculture marketing platform that was drawn up on the lines of states proposals.
The PM appreciated chief ministers’ suggestions on centrally-sponsored schemes, and the Swachh Bharat, skill development and digital payments programmes. “It was the first time chief ministers had been asked to recommend the list of Centrally sponsored schemes and the sharing pattern despite funding constraints. The recommendations were accepted immediately,” he said.