Ahead of the Tamil Nadu elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the Chennai Metro Rail Phase-I extension, completed at a cost of Rs 3770 crore and flagged off the 9.05 km long extension that will link North Chennai with the Airport and Central Railway Station. While addressing the event, PM Modi highlighted the human rights issues faced by Tamilians living in Sri Lanka, especially the fishermen. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam were also present at the event and spoke there.
"Our govt has taken care of interests of Tamils in Sri Lanka. I have had the chance to even visit Jaffna. 50,000 houses have been built for displaced Tamils in north eastern Sri Lanka. Infrastructure is being rebuilt in Jaffna to improve connectivity. Cultural centre in Jaffna is being built by India. Problems faced by fishermen has been long-standing. We have ensured early release whenever fishermen were apprehended in Sri Lanka," said PM Modi.
The PM further said, "The issue of Tamil rights has been taken up by us consistently with Sri Lanka. We are committed to ensuring that they live with equality, justice, peace, and dignity."
"Currently, there are no Indian fishermen in Sri lankan custody. Similarly, 313 boats have also been released and we are working on the release of the rest of the boats," he added.
At the event, he remembered the Pulwama attack that happened two years ago and paid tribute to the martyrs. PM Modi said, "No Indian can forget this day. Two years ago, the Pulwama attack happened. We pay homage to all the martyrs we lost in that attack. We are proud of our security forces. Their bravery will continue to inspire generations."
A day after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami handed over the farm loan waiver receipts to beneficiaries on Saturday, PM Modi appreciated the farmers of the state by saying, "I want to appreciate the farmers of Tamil Nadu for record food grain production and good use of water resources. We have to do whatever we can do to conserve water. Always remember the mantra of 'Per drop, more crop'"
During the event, PM Modi dedicated the Chennai Beach-Attipattu fourth line and the Railway electrification of Villupuram Cuddalore-Mayiladuturai Thanjavur-Mayiladuturai-Tiruvarur Single Line Sections to the nation and laid the foundation stone for the Discovery Campus of IIT Madras, which will be built at nearby Thaiyur at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore in the first phase over an area of 2 lakh sqm and the extension, renovation, and modernization of the Grand Anicut Canal System.
The Prime Minister formally handed over the DRDO developed Arjun Main Battle Tank (MK-1A) to Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy.
Meanwhile, the venue, the sprawling Nehru Stadium premises, and the entire Periamet neighborhood in the heart of the city came under a three-layered security blanket. Traffic diversions and heavy deployment of police personnel were made as part of security measures for the Prime Minister's brief visit. Earlier, the Prime Minister arrived at the airport and then flew in a chopper to INS Adyar from where he drove to the function venue. All along the way, a good number of supporters and the public turned up to greet the Prime Minister as artists played traditional musical instruments to welcome him. Modi waved at the people who waited to have a glimpse of him.
Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu are due in April-May 2021 and the political parties have started their campaigns. While DMK's MK Stalin is eyeing becoming Chief Minister for the first time, CM E Palaniswami (EPS) is fighting for his re-election. The BJP is allied with the AIADMK and is said to be in talks with Stalin's estranged brother MK Alagiri. On the other side, AIADMK has said that they are the big-brother within the NDA alliance though the party faces its own split on account of the release of Sasikala from jail. Meanwhile, Kamal Hassan has put a halt to his campaign trail due to leg surgery. Superstar Rajinikanth who was about to launch his party this year has backed out due to health reasons. Puducherry will also go to polls at the same time and there is trouble in the Congress-DMK alliance as the Stalin-led party has announced its own CM face.