Inaugurating memorial for Kalam, Modi woos people of Tamil Nadu

PM assures central government support for schemes in Tamil Nadu during speech in which he also remembered Jayalalithaa

india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 23:15 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Rameswaram
APJ Abdul kalam,Kalam memorial,Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi views an exhibit during the inauguration of former president APJ Abdul Kalam's memorial at Peikarumbu in Rameswaram on Thursday.(PTI/PIB)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised on Thursday that his central government will support housing programmes and schemes for fishermen in Tamil Nadu, reaching out to a state where his Bharatiya Janata Party is eyeing a foothold.

Modi’s speech came at the inauguration of a memorial for former President and one of India’s most celebrated scientists, APJ Abdul Kalam.

“A new India, without a new Tamil Nadu is not possible. Which is why, the central government is helping the state with funds,” the prime minister said, after assuring funds for housing schemes and for loans to help the state’s fishermen buy bigger boats.

Modi’s BJP has been eyeing a bigger presence in the state, where observers say a political vacuum has been left by the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa last year.

The PM mentioned Jayalalithaa – revered by her followers as Amma — multiple times during his speech, and said that he was “sad that God had taken her away”.

“Had Amma been here, she would have been very happy and blessed us,” Modi said, referring to the work done on Kalam’s memorial.

Modi was speaking in Hindi, while senior state BJP leader H Raja translated it in Tamil alongside, during the function at Mani Mandapam, which at Pei Karumbu at Rameswaram, the birthplace of Kalam. Thursday was the second death anniversary of the former President.

“Last year, we took a decision to build a fitting memorial for him (Kalam). Now I feel proud that we have achieved what he had set out to. The DRDO is worthy of all praise for completing the memorial in such a short time,” the prime minister said.

“There is a secret behind the success of the Kalam memorial – because each special skill needed for the project was brought in. Workers were working extra time and did not take money for the work and it is our homage to the great man – Dr Kalam,” he said.

Tamil Nadu’s acting governor C Vidyasagar Rao, chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami and several Union and state ministers were present at the function.

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 17:52 IST