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BJP defends absence of its CMs at NIC meet citing short notice

Published: 23rd September 2013 08:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd September 2013 09:10 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

The absence of BJP Chief Ministers, other than Shivraj Singh Chouhan, at the National Integration Council meeting drew criticism from Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Congress while the main opposition cited short notice and prior engagements as the reason.

The most notable absentee at today's NIC meeting was Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. His Chhattisgarh counterpart Raman Singh and Goa CM Manohar Parrikar also kept away from the meeting held against the backdrop of communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.

"Every state has the responsibility, every Chief Minister has the responsibility and every CM should have come.

There presence was very necessary.... And there was more urgency for people like Modi to have come. I don't know why he did not come. He must have some reason. But as a CM, he should have come," Shinde told reporters when asked about the absence of BJP CMs.

But Shinde was quick to add that Modi had sent a minister to represent him and he was informed that Modi had not attended as he was busy.

Sources close to Modi said he was busy with the Gujarat Scheduled Caste Commission meeting was pre-scheduled for today. "This was an important meeting which was to be attended by several senior leaders, including from the opposition. Had Modi gone to Delhi, there would have been criticism that since he became BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, he is spending more time there," a senior party leader said.

Raman Singh had sent his Home Minister while Parrikar sent Goa DGP Kishen Kumar as he was "preoccupied".

Chouhan came to the NIC meeting but left after giving his speech. He had informed the Centre that he has to rush back to his state and was asked out of turn to speak.

Raman Singh and Chouhan are busy due to coming assembly elections in their state.

Congress also did not let go this opportunity to hit out at BJP.

"It shows the scant respect the national leaders of the BJP have on national issues. NIC is a 147-member high powered committee in the country. (Someone who wants to be) future leader does not find time for the meeting," Congress spokesperson P C Chacko told reporters.

Chacko said the absence of some BJP Chief Ministers including Modi was "most unfortunate" and showed their "utter disrespect" to the national issues. He said if they had boycotted, then "we would have stronger words to say".

Asked about Modi's absence, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said "if a person doesn't come, he is better suited to explain. If you believe in harmony, integration, then, you would come to such an event."

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