Manmohan meets Cong CMs prior to Niti Aayog meet

Singh deliberated on issues such as the revival of rivers, new initiatives in the farm sector with Chief Ministers Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), H D Kumaraswamy (Karnataka), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayansamy (Puducherry). DH File photo

With Rahul Gandhi away, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday stepped in to guide chief ministers of Congress-ruled states on issues to be taken up vigorously at the meeting of the Governing Council Meeting of the Niti Aayog.

Singh deliberated on issues such as the revival of rivers, new initiatives in the farm sector with Chief Ministers Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), H D Kumaraswamy (Karnataka), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayansamy (Puducherry).

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh could not attend the meeting due to ill-health.

Among the issues discussed were injecting life back in water bodies, fresh efforts needed from the Centre in the agricultural sector and amendment in the Forest Act to bring about change and prosperity in the lives of the tribals.

The chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states are expected to raise key farmers issues and also share the benefits of the loan waiver scheme implemented by them at the Niti Aayog meeting, sources said.

The fifth meeting of the Niti Aayog's Governing Council will focus on issues like the drought situation, farm distress, rainwater harvesting and preparedness for Kharif crops.

The five-point agenda for the meeting also includes aspirational districts programme, transforming agriculture and security related issues with special focus on left-wing extremism (LWE) districts, an official statement said.

On Friday night Kamal Nath had met the chief ministers of Rajasthan, Puducherry, Chhattisgarh over dinner at his residence. It is learnt that they would make a joint appeal to Rahul Gandhi to continue as Congress President.

After the Lok Sabha debacle, Rahul is learnt to have taken off to London for a week and is expected to return before the Parliament Session beginning Monday.

Rahul had offered to quit as Congress President at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on May 25 owning responsibility for the party's defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. The CWC had rejected Rahul's offer to quit and instead authorised him to restructure and overhaul the party organisation.

However, Rahul is adamant on quitting the Congress President's post and keen to work as a campaigner for the party.

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