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NITI Aayog’s governing council to discuss health, other issues

The upcoming meeting of the NITI Aayog’s governing council on May 27, where all chief ministers will participate, is likely to set the stage for parleys between chief ministers of opposition parties with an eye on the 2024 parliamentary elections.

The council will deliberate on issues related to agriculture, economy and health, but many opposition chief ministers, some of them leaders of their parties, will meet on the sidelines for crucial discussions on the general elections.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, one of the key interlocutors of the opposition, met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday to express solidarity after the Centre promulgated an ordinance to restore its power over services in the national capital.

On Tuesday, Kejriwal will meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Banerjee will reach Delhi on May 25. While she has not fixed the agenda, “political meetings are expected during her visit”, a Trinamool Congress functionary said on condition of anonymity.

Similarly, meetings between some chief ministers and the Congress high command are also in the pipeline. “Consultations with Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Nitish Kumar and other like-minded CMs are being planned during their stay in Delhi,” a Congress leader said, declining to be named. The talks assume importance in the backdrop of the proposed meeting of the all opposition parties in Delhi.

When asked about the proposed Opposition meeting, a Left leader who plays an important role in bringing different parties together, said: “We were waiting for the swearing in of the Siddaramaiah government. Over the next few days, we will discuss with possible schedule and agenda with the opposition constituents.”

While the Congress and like-minded parties are aiming to create a common understanding for a Congress-led post-poll front, Banerjee might focus on meeting some of the non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party chief ministers to develop a non-Congress, non-BJP front. After winning the 2021 state elections in West Bengal, Banerjee spoke about brining non-BJP, non-Congress parties together.

Among the opposition chief ministers, Jagan Mohan Reddy, K Chandrashekar Rao, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Pinarayi Vijayan, and MK Stalin of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are expected to come. Some of the these leaders, especially Stalin and Rao’s availability in Delhi, are important as they are expected to reach out to a number of leaders.

While the Congress is fighting against Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Telangana, during the last budget session of Parliament, BRS leader K Keshava Rao had advocated a meeting of all opposition parties in Delhi. Hindustan Times

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