India's result-oriented battle against COVID-19 under the "charismatic leadership" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with people rallying behind him has put the country in a better position vis-a-vis the pandemic, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in Chennai on Saturday.
As a result, it fared better than even some developed nations, he said after dedicating a fifth reservoir for Chennai and laying the foundation stone for various infrastructure projects in the state. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami, deputy CM O Panneerselvam and others attended the event.
Amid a global grip of the contagion, governments and their machinery battled the pandemic in most countries, but in India people too joined the efforts, he said.
"The world and the country are fighting COVID-19. The nation has successfully faced it under PM Modi. If you see the data, India has faced COVID-19 in a better way than developed countries," he said.
While across the world, governments and their machinery were involved in the fight against the spread of the virus, in our country, the Centre and state governments battled it "and the big thing is 130 crore people fought it under (PM) Modi unitedly," Mr Shah added.
"(PM) Modi's charismatic leadership gave a new direction and we are in a good situation due to taking up a result- oriented battle," the Minister said.
On Saturday, India's COVID-19 caseload touched 90.50 lakh with 46,232 new infections while the number of cured surged to over 84.78 lakh, pushing the national recovery rate to 93.67 per cent.
Patting Mr Palaniswami and Mr Panneerselvam over Tamil Nadu's handling of the pandemic, he lauded them on the state being one of the best. Tamil Nadu has a COVID recovery rate of 97 per cent.
Earlier, he dedicated the Thervaikandigai reservoir, developed at an estimated cost of Rs 380 crore to meet the city's drinking water needs and laid the foundation stone for various infrastructure projects, totalling over Rs 67,000 crore, across the state.
The projects for which Shah laid the foundation stone were the Rs 61,843 crore phase II of Chennai Metro Rail, elevated highway in Coimbatore at an estimated cost of Rs 1,620 crore, a barrage across river Cauvery in Karur district and IOCL's projects worth over Rs 3,000 crore in Chennai.
He dedicated the reservoir in Tiruvallur district and laid the foundation stone virtually from Chennai.
Underlining NDA's support to the people of the state, Shah listed out various initiatives by the Centre for Tamil Nadu.
This included transfer of Rs 4,400 crore to farmers, benefiting 52.76 lakh women with cooking gas connections under Ujjwala Yojana, defence industrial corridor, Rs 2.25 lakh crore under Sagarmala project and providing AIIMS in Madurai, for which Modi had laid the foundation stone, he said.
"Tejas Express on Chennai-Madurai route has been started and is an example of Made in India," he added.
Further, no harm could be inflicted on Tamil Nadu fishermen, he said, even as he pointed out at India's commitment towards Sri Lankan Tamils.
Taking on DMK and Congress, he asked them to provide an account of what they did for the state while being in power for ten years starting 2014 and said he was ready for a public debate to list out what the NDA did for Tamil Nadu.
"In the last Union budget of the Manmohan Singh government in 2013-14, Rs 16,155 crore was allocated to Tamil Nadu. In our latest Union budget we increased this to Rs 32,850 crore," he said and assured NDA's "rock-solid" support to Tamil Nadu.
The Modi government has given the state its due place and rights, something which no other government at the Centre had been able to do, he added.
Attacking the M K Stalin-led DMK on corruption and dynasty politics, he said it would face a rout in next year's Assembly polls in the state, where "democratic forces" will prevail.
Taking on both DMK and its ally Congress, Shah said the two had no right to talk about corruption, asking "under whose leadership did the 2G (spectrum allocation scam) happen."
He said the party under PM Modi has handed defeats to dynasty parties in states and asserted that DMK would face a similar fate in the 2021 elections.
The Dravidian party is often accused of practising dynasty politics by its critics, including arch rival AIADMK.
Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu are due in April-May 2021 and the AIADMK has announced its alliance with the BJP will continue for the election.
On the security scenario, Mr Shah said the morale of the country's security forces was high under Modi and that the Nagrota encounter, in which four heavily-armed terrorists were killed, was an example of this.
He exuded confidence that the borders would also become more secure under the leadership of the PM.
Meanwhile, Mr Palaniswami sought the Centre's intervention for water projects, including Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut) link project and submitted letters to Mr Shah in this connection.
Mr Panneerselvam, who hailed Shah as a "master strategist" and "modern day Chanakya," said the AIADMK-BJP alliance, forged for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, would continue for the 2021 TN Assembly polls also, a statement which Mr Palaniswami endorsed at the event.
Later, the two leaders held discussions with Mr Shah, who also met party functionaries, possibly to chalk out the strategy for the 2021 elections.