Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a two-day tour to Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep and Kerala, his first trip in the New Year, beginning the big push to the BJP’s “Mission South” in the run-up to the 2024 elections.
His visit, where he inaugurated multiple projects, came packaged with a big political message.
“Tamil culture and tradition is the talk everywhere,” the Prime Minister said on the occasion, citing the installation of the Sengol in the new parliament.
As other examples, he cited the Kashi Sangamam and Saurashtra Sangamam — festivals that aim to highlight the country’s cultural diversity and reconnect people with pilgrimage centres.
The inauguration of the 15-plus projects came with a reminder of the NDA government’s largesse for the states.
“In the 10 years before 2014, states got Rs 30 lakh crore. In the 10 years starting 2014, states got 120 lakh crores. Tamil Nadu got 2.5 times more funds, road infrastructure got 3 times more,” PM Modi said.
Of the 131 Lok Sabha seats in the south, the BJP has never won in 84 constituencies and three states. Their only stronghold was Karnataka, which is currently being ruled by the Congress. In 2019, the party won 25 of Karnataka’s 27 seats and got a toehold in Kerala with one seat.
The party is now working to expand its gains and make a niche in other southern states.
Today, PM Modi’s first stop was Bharatidasan University in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirapally, where he told students that the next 25 years were going to be the most important ever for the nation.
“Tamil Nadu is big on education… This is the best time to be young. Next 25 years are going to be most important in history. Attack on country targets knowledge centres… big hope from youth in science, arts, literature,” PM Modi told the students.
The Prime Minister also formally opened a state-of the-art international terminal at the Tiruchirapally airport, built at a cost of Rs 1100 crore, which he said, will boost economy and tourism.
It was done alongside the inauguration of 16 projects worth nearly 20,000 crores related to aviation, rail, road, ports, energy and natural gas pipeline. A demonstration was even held of the Fast Reactor Fuel Reprocessing plant at Kalpakkam.
The airport is Tamil Nadu’s second-largest terminal in terms of international traffic, after the one in the state capital Chennai.
At Lakshadweep, the Prime Minister fulfilled his promise of a submarine optical fibre link that is expected to increase internet speed 100 times. Mr Modi is staying overnight in Lakshadweep and would fly to Kerala’s Thrissur tomorrow afternoon.