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Many opposition CMs & top netas skip Centre’s Gandhi anniversary meeting | India News

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NEW DELHI: There were several high-profile absentees from the first meeting of a committee to plan Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary events, with Congress leaders Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav and CPM’s Sitaram Yechury not being present.

Among CMs who did turn up at the meeting chaired by President Ram Nath Kovind and attended by PM Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday were West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik.

The anniversary celebrations commence on October 2, 2019. Banerjee met PM Modi for the first time in months on Wednesday at a time when a political war is raging between the Trinamool Congress and BJP in Bengal over the panchayat elections. Along with the TMC chief, who has been busy coordinating with the opposition parties for a “federal front” against BJP, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was also present.

Naidu, who recently walked out of the BJP-led NDA, skipped the meeting, writing to the culture ministry that he was unable to attend due to a pre-scheduled cabinet meeting on urgent matters while adding that he will be happy to participate in future deliberations. Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav met in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

The KCR-Yadav meeting is part of the TRS chief ’s plan to forge an alliance of non-Congress parties against BJP in which he sees himself playing a leading role. Vijayan’s reason for not attending the meeting was that he was participating in the CPM’s state committee meeting in Thiruvananthapuram, the dates for which had been decided earlier.

He, too, wrote a letter excusing himself and assuring he would attend the next one. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, busy leading the Congress’s campaign in the assembly elections, had obvious reasons for not turning up. While Congress-ruled Puducherry’s CM V Narayanasamy was present, his party colleague and Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh was absent.

The CMs who attended the meeting included Mehbooba Mufti (J&K), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (MP), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) and Nitish Kumar (Bihar). Congress was represented by former PM Manmohan Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad. Among other senior leaders who attended included Union minister Sushma Swaraj. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury couldn’t attend because he is out of the country.

Updated: May 2, 2018 — 7:18 pm

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