New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that 16 chief ministers attended the second meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing a press conference, Jaitley informed that the PM gave a patient hearing to all the chief ministers and concluded that concerns of states will be kept in mind while passing the Land Acquisition Bill.
“PM talked about how most states were not able to implement the Land Acquisition Act passed by the previous UPA government,” Jaitley said.
While giving details about the meet, Jaitley said that there was a common view raised by many states that the Land Acquisition Act needs to be amended.
“Many CMs were of the view that delay in implementing Land Bill is slowing development projects,” Jaitley noted.
“The chief ministers suggested that the Centre should work towards evolving a consensus on the Land Acquisition Bill, and if it takes a longer time to reach a final deal, then it should give enough flexibility to states to frame their own land law,” the Union Minister said.
The Finance Minister also hit out at the state heads who didn't attend the meet. “Some CMs had informed the PM about their inability to attend today's meeting, but those state heads who chose to boycott the Governing Council meeting should consider if it is in the spirit of co-operative federalism.”
Further hitting out at the states which continue to oppose the Land Bill, the BJP leader said that some states which had requested for changes last year are now opposing the current version of the Bill.
The Niti Aayog meeting took place at PM's official residence 7, Race Course Road.
Congress chief ministers skipped the high-level meet. Besides the Congress leaders, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also didn't attend the meet, as her Trinamool Congress is against the proposed land bill.
However, PM Modi's bête noire Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar attended the Niti Aayog meeting.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav also gave the meet a miss. Official sources said that the Samajwadi Party leader has a number of engagements lined up today in the state capital.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa, who also didn't attend the meet, sent a letter of her written speech.
Since the deliberations are to be attended only by Chief Ministers, the state Finance and Public Works Minister O Panneerselvam, whom she had intended to send for the meeting, will also not participate, the AIADMK supremo said in the letter to the Prime Minister.
"....As I am engaged with other pressing official work, which I have been unable to reschedule, I will not be able to attend the meeting on 15th July, 2015.
I had intended to depute a senior member of my Cabinet, O Panneerselvam, Minister for Finance and Public Works, to attend the meeting along with the Principal Secretary, Planning & Development, and the Commissioner of Land Administration."
PM Modi will also have separate meetings chief ministers of Northeastern states, including Sikkim later today.
The Governing Council, which comprises all Chief Ministers and Lt Governors of Union Territories is headed by Prime Minister.