New Delhi: Chief Ministers of three states - West Bengal, Punjab and Telangana will not be attending the NITI Aayog meeting on Saturday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog.

Several issues including the drought situation, farm distress, rain-water harvesting and preparedness for Kharif crops will be taken up for discussion at the meeting.

The five-point agenda for the meeting also includes aspirational districts programme, transforming agriculture and security related issues with special focus on left-wing extremism (LWE) districts, an official statement said.

The meeting, which will take place at Rashtrapati Bhavan, will be attended by chief ministers, several union ministers, lieutenant governors of union territories, and senior government officials, news agency PTI reported.

However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is a vocal critic of the BJP-led central government, refused to attend the meeting, saying NITI Aayog has “no financial powers” and hence it was “fruitless” for her to attend its meeting.

“The experience of the last four and half years we had with the Niti Ayog, brings me back to my earlier suggestion to you that we focus on the Inter-State Council constituted under Article 263 of the constitution, with appropriate modifications, to enable the ISC to discharge its augmented range of functions as the nodal entity of the country. This will deepen cooperative federalism and strengthen federal polity,” Banerjee said in a letter to PM Modi.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao and his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh will also skip the meeting.

Punjab CM will give a miss to the meeting due to poor health while Rao, commonly known as KCR, will not attend it as he would be busy reviewing the preparation for the launch of an irrigation project in Telangana.
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