Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Jul 15:
In a major embarrassment for the Odisha government, Finance Minister Pradeep Amat was today denied entry to the venue of the all-important Niti Aayog meeting being held here under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sources said Amat did not possess the necessary entry pass to attend the meeting. Amat was denied entry since only Chief Ministers, who are members of the Niti Aayog governing council, had been invited for the meeting, they said.
Amat was to represent Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had decided to skip the meeting and send Amat instead. Amat had to return without attending the meeting.
The Finance Minister was sent by Patnaik to represent him at the meeting since he was busy with the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra.
The Niti Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be discussing issues pertaining to the controversial amended Land Acquisition Bill and implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country, the issues which the Modi government at the Centre is finding it difficult to get through.
Denial of Amat’s entry to the meeting venue has elicited strong reactions from the BJD and the Congress while the BJP has blamed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the faux pas.
Excise & Cooperation Minister and senior BJD leader Damodar Rout has called the incident ‘unfortunate’.
“Denial of pass to Amat is unfortunate. Amat had gone to attend the meeting in line with the federal arrangement that we have. Provision of pass to Amat was the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO),” said Rout in his reaction on the incident.
Spokesperson of the Congress Sulocahana Das also called the incident ‘unfortunate’.
However, senior BJP leader Suresh Pujari blamed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the embarrassment caused to Amat.
“Niti Aayog meetings are most important meetings. The Chief Minister should have attended it. Instead, he sent Amat. He has a habit of excusing himself from such meetings. It’s not only an embarrassment for Amat; it’s an embarrassment for the state of Odisha, which has been caused by the Chief Minister. There could have been a last-minute change which the Niti Aayog officials might not have been informed of by the Chief Minister’s office or the Resident Commissioner at New Delhi,” said Pujari.