CHENNAI: During his Chennai visit to lay the foundation stone for development projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday appeared going all-out to woo Tamils and assuage the perceived discontent among them against the BJP over the issues linked to their identity.
In Chennai, PM Modi dedicated to the nation and laid the foundation stone of 11 projects worth over Rs 31,500 crore on Thursday. These projects will boost infrastructure development, enhance connectivity and give an impetus to ease of living in the region.
Sharing the dais with staunch BJP critic and Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, the prime minister said that the people, culture and language of the state are “outstanding”.
In a state where political parties, especially the ruling DMK, allege imposition of Hindi, PM Modi told a gathering in the city that Tamil language is “eternal”
“Tamil culture is global. From Chennai to Canada, from Madurai to Malaysia, from Namakkal to New York, from Salem to South Africa, the occasions of Pongal and Puthandu are marked with great fervor,” he said.
In a bid to cement the BJP’s position on the issue of Tamil culture and language, the prime minister informed that former state BJP chief and Union minister L Murugan walked the Red Carpet of the Cannes Film Festival in traditional Tamil attire that “made the Tamil people all over the world very proud”.
Murugan also shared the stage with prime minister Modi at the event.
He stressed that the government of India is fully committed to further popularising Tamil language and culture.
Speaking on the occasion, chief minister Stalin, who has been demanding official and administrative language status to Tamil, urged the prime minister to make it an official language on part with Hindi.
With PM Modi listening, Stalin also called for exempting Tamil Nadu from NEET. Tamil Nadu Assembly has recently passed a bill demanding the exemption.
“Make Tamil the official language like Hindi and the official language in Madras High Court,” said the Chief Minister.
In a state where sentiments for Sri Lankan Tamils run high, the prime minister said that his government has provided all possible support to the island nation and will continue to stand with its people as they face an economic catastrophe.
India will support democracy, stability and economic recovery in the crisis-hit island nation, PM Modi reiterated.
“Sri Lanka is passing through difficult times. I am sure you are concerned with the developments there. As a close friend and neighbour, India is providing all possible support to Sri Lanka,” he further said.
The government has India has sent assistance worth several billion US dollars and extended line of credits to assist the cash-strapped Sri Lankan economy. It has sent shiploads of humanitarian aid, cooking gas, large quantities of fuel, and medicinal supplies.
In March this year, Sri Lanka plunged into an economic crisis unparalleled since the country’s independence, triggering massive protests and political unrest leading to the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa from the prime minister’s post earlier this month and the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country’s prime minister.