Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar is unlikely to attend a meeting of the NITI Aayog scheduled to be held on August 7 in the national capital. If so, this would be the fourth BJP event, the second to be led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a month that Nitish has chosen to give a miss.
The Bihar CM, it is learnt, has cited his COVID-19 recovery behind his latest decision and offered to send the Deputy CM for the event. The offer has, however, been turned down as the meeting is strictly for chief ministers only. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, a fierce critic of the Modi government, arrived in New Delhi for the meeting of the NITI Aayog’s governing council on Thursday. She also met the Prime Minister Friday evening.
On July 17, Nitish had skipped a meeting of chief ministers called by Union Home minister Amit Shah on matters concerning the national flag. He did not attend the farewell dinner for outgoing President Ramnath Kovind on July 22, and also skipped President Droupadi Murmu’s oath-taking ceremony on July 25.
Nitish is the second Chief Minister whose attendance at the NITI Aayog meeting, first to be conducted in person since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, is uncertain. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao may also skip the meeting and there are reports suggesting that he may depute a Cabinet colleague or the vice-chairman of the State Planning Board on his behalf. However, there is no official word on this yet.
The Prime Minister has convened the meeting of the NITI Aayog governing council after a gap of more than two years. The chief ministers of all states are members of the apex body. The agenda of the meeting includes crop diversification and achieving self-sufficiency in oilseeds and pulses, implementation of the National Education Policy and urban governance, among other issues.