Modi promises to make Tamil Nadu an integral part of Viksit Bharat

“We should also promote the language, culture and heritage”

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 1, 2024

Irrespective of the outcome of the general election 2024, Tamil Nadu will play a significant role in the development of the country, especially in achieving the Viksit Bharat Vision (a fully developed Nation) by 2047, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.

Speaking to the Thanthi Television Channel in Chennai on March 31, 2024, he said that if elected to lead the country the Bharatiya Janata Party and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for the third term, as the Prime Minister, he will build the nation’s defence corridor in the State and make Tamil Nadu the defence and aerospace hub of Bharat.

Development above Politics

“Tamil Nadu is one of the most progressive industrial and talented states and the BJP government will make it bigger and stronger. A fully developed Tamil Nadu is important for a fully developed India. We are developing Thoothukudi (Tuticorin, near Madurai) as a major container port and it will be a game changer in the Indian shipping industry. Tamil Nadu is also a top State for tourism,” he said and later explained the significance of installing the ‘Sengol’ (sceptre) in the hall of the new Parliament building in Delhi and conducting the Kasi-Tamil Sangamam Programme.

The Sengol is a gold-plated, silver sceptre gifted to India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru by a Tamil Adheenam, a Shaivite Mutt in Thiruvavaduthurai during a religious ceremony on the eve of India’s independence on August 14, 1947. The Sengol was considered a symbol of justice and good governance by rulers of Tamil Nadu in ancient India. Mr Nehru ordered that it be housed in the Allahabad Museum. Mr Modi moved to the new Parliament building in 2023.

Mr Modi told Hariharan SA (Senior Associate Editor) and Ashokha Varshni of the TV Channel that the development of Tamil Nadu is not weighed on the scale of politics. While his interview covered various national issues, it was State-centric since the BJP is determined to make inroads into the predominance of Dravidian parties in the State.

“Tamil Nadu is a powerful part of our country. I have visited this beautiful State for more than five decades in various capacities. Tamil Nadu is very important in the dream of a developed India and that is my dream too,” he said.

Mr Modi has been a regular visitor to Tami Nadu in recent years and prayed at all the important Temples of Lord Rama before the Prana Pratishta Ceremony that he attended at the new Temple in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024. He said that the people of Tamil Nadu have great veneration for Lord Rama and that the State has more villages, towns, cities and districts in the name of Ram than any other region in India.

He also spoke of the good relations that he had with Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the late Chief Minister and Leader of AIADMK.

“Amma came to Gujarat in 2002 to witness the ceremony at which I took oath as the Chief Minister. She came as a friend and was not bothered about the criticisms that were being levelled against me then. AIADMK should regret (and not BJP that they have destroyed her dreams for Tamil Nadu,” Mr Modi said.

“I am working for the country. Tamil Nadu is a great strength of my country.”
-Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Hariharan SA (Senior Associate Editor) and Ashokha Varshni of Thanthi TV in Chennai on March 31, 2024 (Screengrab)

Lok Sabha Elections

Tamil Nadu will be among the States that will go to polls in the first phase of India’s massive general election on April 19, 2024. According to the Election Commission of India, there are 61.8 million registered voters in the State, out of an estimated population of 72.42 million. The State accounts for 39 seats and the Bharatiya Janata Party has thus far not won any. The neighbouring Union Territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry) has one Lok Sabha seat which has been won by local parties or the Indian National Congress since 1967.

BJP’s Tamil Nadu Unit President Kuppuswamy Annamalai, a former officer of the Indian Police Service has been drawing large crowds at BJP meetings across all the constituencies with his famous 10,000 kms walkathon but whether these will translate into votes remains to be seen.

Observers say that the Lok Sabha elections aside, a major challenge will come about in 2016 when the State goes for Assembly elections.

The interview that Mr Modi gave to Thanthi TV is seen as a great strategy since the Daily Thanthi Tamil newspaper is known for its affiliation with the ruling DMK government. With a daily circulation of 1.9 million copies (two million on weekends), it is the fourth-largest circulated newspaper in India, with 16 editions printed and published in as many cities. Daily Thanthi is the first Indian newspaper to be published in Dubai (since December 2014), serving more than 200,000 Tamilians in the United Arab Emirates.

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Tamil language, culture neglected

Mr Modi lamented that the richness of Tamil culture and language has not been promoted as such as it should have been over the years.

“We have the oldest language (Tamil) in the world and culture and heritage that are also very old. I am angry that language and culture have been politicised,” he said and added in a lighter vein that Tamil Nadu’s Idli and Dosa have not suffered politics.

“Today, you can get Idli and Dosa everywhere in India and many parts of the world. Like these delicacies, the Tamil language should also have spread but due to politics, it has suffered. I have immense respect for Tamil and the people of Tamil Nadu,” he said.

Mr Modi will be contesting from Varanasi (also known as Kashi and formerly Benares) in the general election (polling on June 1, 2024, the final phase), the Holy City for Hindus at which he has conducted two Kasi-Tamil Sangamam Programme (December 2022 and 2023).

“Kasi has a special significance for Hindus and more so for people from Tamil Nadu. They constitute the largest number of visitors to the Holy City. Members of the family of poet Bharati still live in Kasi. The Kasi Tamil Sangamam is very important to me,” he said.

Mr Modi’s initiative resonates with a famous song of Bharati. Called, ‘Sindu Nadiyinmisai’ (picturised on Shivaji Ganesan in the 1964 Tamil film ‘Kai Kodutha Deivam,’ it speaks of national integration and unity through inter-state and inter-language cooperation.


India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Sengol before installation near the Speaker’s Seat in Lok Sabha of the new Parliament Building in New Delhi on May 28, 2023
(PMO Photo)

Viksit Bharat, Viksit Tamil Nadu

Answering a question on whether the BJP will be able to win in Tamil Nadu, Mr Modi said that he rises above politics in his role as the Prime Minister.

“I am working for the country. Tamil Nadu is a great strength of my country. Who gets the power is not my concern. Viksit Bharat cannot be complete without Viksit Tamil Nadu. The State has great strength,” he said and cited the manufacturing industries, Madras Institute of Technology, the progressive farming sector and other sectors as examples.

On foreign policy, Mr Modi said that his inclusive policy has been central to global identity.

“We care for the smallest country as much as we do for the top countries. When the world was hit by Covid, we sent free medicines and other supplies to those in need. We have become the Vishwa Bandhu (Universal Friend). That is our identity today,” he said.

BJP for the rich or the poor?

Is the BJP and Mr Modi for the rich at the cost of the poor?

Answering this question, Mr Modi said that the achievements of his government since 2014 (the year he took office as the Prime Minister) have been spelt among the poorest sections of the country. These include bringing electricity to more than 25 million families, construction of about 110 million public toilets, creation of the ‘Self-Help Group of women with a member of more than 100 million women (expected to rise by another 30 million) and free medical treatment to about 500 million people (through the Ayushman Bharat Scheme).

“Which of these schemes have helped corporates?,” he asked and added, “There are more than 80% of houses in this country which had to go out somewhere to get water. Today, we are providing tap water to about 150 million people. The gas stove is burning. I can count for you 100 things that are dedicated to helping the poor people of my country,” he said.

On the Enforcement Directorate and the raids being conducted on politicians, Mr Modi said that the Directorate was not created by the BJP and that it has been established to do its job.

“There are 7000 cases registered by the Enforcement Directorate and the raid on political parties and politicians constitutes only 3%. This money belongs to the people and should go back to them. That is why people are cheering the ED,” he said.

The next phase of growth

Mr Modi said that he and his Party have great plans to develop India further.

“There are four important sections in our country: Women, Youth, Farmers and the Poor. They believe that their problems have been addressed in the past ten years. They believe that political stability will help the country to move forward. If the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance get the strength, then progress will be many times faster. There is a positive mood everywhere in the country,” he said.

Does he have any advice for the Congress Party which is languishing in Opinion Polls?

“Who am I to advise them? Even today, the Congress Party has many stalwarts who may have good ideas to improve the Party. The people in the Party should listen to them,” he said.

Coming up: Our Leader, “The uphill task for BJP in Tamil Nadu.”

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