More central assistance to deal with farm sector distress and natural calamities, and compensation against loss of revenue on account of GST implementation beyond the five-year period were among the key demands raised by the states during the fifth Governing Council meeting of Niti Aayog. Speaking at the meeting, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy made a strong pitch to grant special category status to the debt-ridden state and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be "gracious" in fulfilling the promise made in Parliament and also in the BJP's 2014 poll manifesto.
On the other hand, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan regretted that Niti Aayog has not "played the much-expected role of a facilitator" in the last four years and perhaps was not a substitute for the erstwhile Planning Commission. In his inaugural remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that Niti Aayog has a key role to play in fulfilling the mantra of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, SabkaVishwas". He asked the states to work towards increasing the country's GDP and help it achieve the goal USD 5 trillion economy by 2024.
The meeting was attended by senior union ministers and almost all the chief ministers, except Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal) and K Chandrashekhar Rao (Telangana). Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who could not attend the meeting due to health reasons deputed his finance minister Manpreet Badal for the meeting. Banerjee had earlier said she would not attend the meeting saying Niti Aayog is a "fruitless" body as it has no financial powers. Rao did not come as he was busy with preparations for the launch of the ambitious Rs 80,000 crore Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project that would end water woes in the state.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur too was not able to participate as he was in Germany. Speaking at the meeting, held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urged the Aayog to rework the eligibility criteria for draught compensation in affected areas and reduce the crop damage limit from 33 per cent to 20 per cent. He also urged that the CRPF companies deployed in Naxal-hit Chandauli and Sonbhadra districts of the state should not be withdrawn and the Union Home Ministry should take back its order.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister stressed that the central forces were required to keep a check on Naxal activities. He also suggested that the loan facility under the Kisan Credit Card Scheme should be based on the crop, instead of land area. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who has won the fifth consecutive term, batted for simultaneous elections and said frequent polls "vitiate development". He said the focus of the country as large as India should be on agriculture.
Mentioning how the recent cyclone 'Fani' had caused massive devastation to the public infrastructure, property and livelihoods in Odisha, Patnaik said natural calamity should be included as a criterion for according Special Category Status to Odisha. Sarbananda Sonowal, the Chief Minister of Assam sought enhanced assistance to the people affected by natural calamities like floods, which hit the state every year. He also raised key issues pertinent to the state's development and underlined the future roadmap for state and central government's partnership.
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, in his intervention, asked the Centre to extend GST compensation beyond five years, saying that the state will face "severe financial crunch" after the recompense period ends in 2022. While implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Centre had assured the states to compensate them for loss of their revenue for five years till 2022. "While the revenue gap is being bridged by the assured compensation till 2022, the state has limited scope to mobilise additional revenue thereafter," Kumaraswamy said.