Law commission: Simultaneous polls possible from 2019
Law Commission chairman Justice BS Chauhan said that the Law Commission and Election Commission would soon begin discussions on holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and state polls. He said, "we will discuss with the EC various issues regarding holding of simultaneous polls along with Parliamentary polls in 2019." He added that the process was possible and modalities needed to be worked out with the EC.
On 7 December, PM Modi called a meeting of all state CMs to divulge the plans of doing away with the Planning Commission and to come up with a more adaptive body. Arun Jaitley, who moderated the meeting, said that this was to call forth "the spirit of cooperative federalism". The idea was backed by all the CMs, though Congress CMs had some reservations.
The Congress party mocked the launch of NITI Aayog calling it ''a cosmetic relabeling exercise". It highlighted that NITI Aayog is mere translation of 'Policy Commission' in Hindi.
The Planning Commission, the central planning agency which created India's Five-Year Plans has been remodelled as the NITI Aayog (Policy Commission). NITI Aayog will also furnish the government at the state and centre with pertinent strategic and scholarly advice across a wide array of policies. The PM will be the Chairperson of the Aayog and will work in close proximity with the CMs.
The NITI Aayog aims to promote citizen engagement by providing an accessible framework. The PM said that the new body was committed to provide an egalitarian access to opportunity. Unlike the rigid planning commission, this set up would provide for a more adaptive and participative government. Moreover, the NITI Aayog would use technology while formulating credible plans at village levels.
The Information Ministry said that NITI is an acronym for National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. The institution will function as the government's 'Think Tank'.
Arvind Panagariya, the vice chairman of NITI Aayog launched the new website of the Aayog, after five months of archiving the website of its predecessor Planning Commission. The beta version of the website provides particulars of the constitution, objectives and current exercises of the Aayog. The site features NITI Blogs, which will include 'articles, field reports, work in progress' and assessment by NITI officials.
Addressing the first NITI Aayog meeting the PM contended that 'alleviation of poverty' was its biggest challenge. The Aayog would have specialised wings called 'Team India' whose delegates will assure that every state/ministry has a visible stake. Modi warranted more funds with greater powers on their utilisation to the states and asked the states to address issues that were causing delay in projects.
Nine Congress-ruled states Chief Ministers and those of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh refrained from attending the meeting of NITI Aayog's governing council in New Delhi. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act were the main points of discussion at the meeting.
Amitabh Kant has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NITI Aayog. He will take over his duties as CEO after his retirement as Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in February. Amitabh Kant is also known for masterminding Narendra Modi's Make in India campaign. Kant has been appointed in place of former IAS officer Sindhushree Khullar.