Chief ministers of nine Congress-ruled states as well as those of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha on Wednesday kept away from the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog's Governing Council meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss various issues, including the land Bill.
The second meeting of the NITI Aayog's governing council, was, however, attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, besides those from NDA-ruled states.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was among those who attended the meeting. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu's J Jayalalithaa, Odisha's Naveen Patnaik and Uttar Pradesh's Akhilesh Yadav were among those who skipped the meet.
The governing council, which comprises all chief ministers and Lt Governors of UnionTerritories, is headed by the prime minister.
The meeting was called by Modi to deliberate on various issues, including the contentious land acquisition Bill. The council was also expected to deliberate on issues like poverty, health and centrally sponsored schemes.
Congress leaders had earlier said the party chief ministers would not attend the meeting to check the government from pushing ahead with the controversial land Bill.
"Since there is no meeting ground between the views of the Congress and the government on the measure, there was no use of the party chief ministers attending the meet," Congress spokesperson R P N Singh said.
Reports earlier had it that the Congress chief ministers have written identical letters to the Parliamentary Committee going into the measure informing it that their state is opposed to the provisions of the Bill.
They have also told the Committee that they would like "no amendments" to be to made to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
They have held that the amendments go against the interests of farmers and take away the rights of tribal communities and gram sabhas.
The Congress has governments in nine states -- Kerala, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.
The chief ministers have pointed out that the 2013 Act had been passed unanimously by Parliament in September 2013 after over two years of nation-wide consultations and debate.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi had led a march of leaders of 14 opposition parties to President Pranab Mukherjee during the Budget session to protest against the bill.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with chief ministers ahead of the meeting in New Delhi. Photograph: PMO India/Twitter