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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

PM Modi throws open DefExpo, runs into Cauvery protests

The Prime Minister said his government has taken steps to strengthen and improve manufacturing licenses, exports clearances, Foreign Direct Investment and reforming procurement.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2018 23:41 IST

Rahul Singh and KV Lakshmana, Chennai
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 10th edition of India’s Mega Defence Exhibition — DefExpo 2018 at Tiruvidandhai, on the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 10th edition of India’s Mega Defence Exhibition — DefExpo 2018 at Tiruvidandhai, on the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the previous United Progressive Alliance government’s “laziness, incompetence or perhaps some hidden motives” behind tardy military procurements while inaugurating the Defence Expo in Chennai on Thursday where his visit was marred by widespread protests and “go back” slogans over the Cauvery issue.

A fasting Modi also inaugurated new facilities at a cancer hospital in Chennai and reached out to the southern states on another spiralling issue of incentives to states on population control. While the Modi government is grappling with the Cauvery water-sharing issue, the PM assured that the 15th Finance Commission will bring benefits to Tamil Nadu.

“The Union Government has suggested to the Finance Commission to consider incentivizing States who have worked on population control. Thus, a state like Tamil Nadu, which has devoted a lot of effort, energy and resources towards population control would certainly benefit,” Modi said in a tweet.

In another tweet, he added: “A baseless allegation is being made about the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission, being biased against certain states or a particular region.”

States such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have been apprehensive that the finance commission may decide on revenue devolution on the basis of the 2011 census, not the 1971 one. Parameters based on the latest census will be disadvantageous for them as southern states have controlled population more effectively than their northern counterparts.

Addressing a wide range of foreign and Indian companies at the Defence Expo, the PM showcased his government’s focus on sharpening India’s military preparedness, making a special mention of a recent contract to buy bulletproof jackets and the fresh hunt for fighter jets.

“We have seen the damage such laziness, incompetence or perhaps some hidden motives, can cause to the nation. Not now, not anymore... never again,” Modi said after inaugurating the biennial military systems’ exhibition. “You would have seen how the issue of providing bulletproof jackets to Indian soldiers was kept hanging for years. You would have also seen that we have brought the process to a successful conclusion with a contract that will provide a boost to defence manufacturing in India,” Modi said.

A combat free fall demonstration by MARCOS at DefExpo on Thursday.
A combat free fall demonstration by MARCOS at DefExpo on Thursday. ( ANI/Twitter )

The new jackets will provide extra protection to troops than the existing ones that leave them vulnerable on the sides, throat and groin. Experts say the existing lot does not provide protection against hardened steel core Kalashnikov bullets used by militants in Kashmir. Modi also recalled the delay in acquiring fighter aircraft during the UPA regime and added that his government has “not only taken bold action to meet our immediate critical requirements, but also initiated a new process to procure 110 fighter aircraft.”

In Chennai, slogan-shouting activists belonging to an assortment of pro-Tamil outfits, fringe elements and film fraternity members greeted Modi with black flags demanding that he “go back”. They were protesting the government’s failure to form the Cauvery Management Board as per Supreme Court orders. Some 10,000 police personnel were deployed to provide foolproof security to the Prime Minister. “Since he did not take the road we released black balloons instead,” said R Srinivasan, a leader of VCK, a Tamil Nadu-based party. While members of the film fraternity shouted slogans “Modiye Veliyapo, Veliyapo” ( “Modi Go back”), a group of IIT Madras students also held banners, black flags and shouted slogans against the PM’s visit. DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, his son MK Stalin and daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, all wore black.

Modi is not the first PM to have been shown black flags in TN. Jawaharlal Nehru was shown black flags at the height of the anti-Hindi agitation in the late fifties. Indira Gandhi faced a similar situation after she imposed the Emergency in 1977.

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 12:38 IST

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