New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday chaired the sixth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog via video conferencing and lauded the Union Budget 2021, saying it has expressed the mood of the nation.

Lauding the youth for playing a major role in India's development, PM Modi stressed that the Centre and state government need to work together and head towards a certain direction and make cooperative federalism even more meaningful.

The Prime Minister also noted that India needs competitive and cooperative federalism not only among states but also in districts.

"In the COVID-19 period, we saw how the Centre and States worked together, the nation succeeded and a good image of India was built before the entire world. Today, when we are going to complete 75 years of independence, this Governing Council meet becomes even more significant," PM Modi said.

"In past few years, we saw that opening of bank accounts, increase in vaccination and health facilities, free electricity connection, free gas connection to empower the poor has reflected a phenomenal change in their lives," he added.

PM Modi on Saturday chaired the sixth meeting of Governing Council of NITI Aayog which was attended by chief ministers and representatives of all states and union territories (UTs).

However, Punjab's Captain Amarinder Singh and West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee did not attend Saturday's meeting. In Singh's absence, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal attended the meeting.

Notably, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier skipped the Niti Aayog's meetings and termed it as a "fruitless" exercise, alleging that the body has "no financial power" and cannot support the state plans.

Apart from CMs and representatives of states and UTs, the meeting was also be attended by the ex-officio members of the Governing Council, Union Ministers, Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Members and CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant and other senior officials of the government.

Notably, the sixth NITI Aayog meeting also see witnessed the entry of Ladakh for the first time, in addition to the participation of Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has said that the agenda of the meeting includes deliberations on agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, human resource development, service delivery at the grassroots level and health and nutrition.

The first meeting the Governing Council was held on February 8, 2015, at which the Prime Minister laid down the key mandates of Niti Aayog such as fostering cooperative federalism and addressing national issues through active participation of the states.

The second meeting on July 15, 2015 reviewed the progress made by the three sub-groups of chief ministers and the two task forces.

In the third meeting on April 23, 2017, PM Modi had pitched for conducting simultaneous elections of the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies and shifting to a January-December fiscal year.

The fourth meeting of the council on June 17, 2018 deliberated upon measures taken to double farmers' income and the progress of the government's flagship schemes.

The fifth meeting was held on June 15, 2019. However, the council did not meet last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma