Days after his party inked a poll pact with AIADMK, senior BJP leader Piyush Goyal on Sunday hailed the late Dravidian party supremo J Jayalalithaa as a champion of the weaker sections and lauded her pro-poor initiatives like the "Amma canteen."
Participating in the launch of the Prime Minister's monetary assistance plan for the farmers, he said Jayalalithaa implemented several welfare measures like the low cost food chain Amma canteens.
Also, she introduced schemes for sale of medicines at discounted rates, gave free textbooks to students, uniforms, bags, cycles, and she was always caring for the poor and for the farmers, he said.
The Union Minister quoted J Jayalalithaa's maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha (in 1984) when the late leader had said: "I have come here as a representative of the weaker sections of our society."
She had said that she represented humble workers,farmers, poor agriculture labourers and women, Mr Goyal recalled and added that "her heart was for the poor, farmers and the less privileged sections of society."
Describing her birth anniversary today as an auspicious day for the launch of the kisan plan, he requested the gathering to stand up and give a "resounding appalause" as a mark of respect for the late leader, to which many in the audience responded by saying, "Puratchi Thalaivi Amma vazhga".
Reminiscing of his last meeting with J Jayalalithaa days before her hospitalisation in September 2016, Mr Goyal said her "radiant smiling face" came before his eyes even as he spoke.
"I was fortunate to meet her a few days before her hospitalisation and that day was one of the most memorable days of my life," he said.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam too said that the "path breaking" farmers scheme was launched on the birth anniversary day of "our revered leader honourable Amma."
Mr Goyal, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his Deputy Panneerselvam and agriculture minister Doraikannu gave away the first installment of Rs 2,000 under the kisan plan to the beneficiaries.
Mr Goyal and Mr Panneerselvam also condemned the recent Pulwama terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and condoled the deaths of CRPF jawans, including two from Tamil Nadu.
"I can assure you on behalf of Prime Minister Modi, that their sacrifice will not go in vain and the country will give a befitting reply to terrorism and people who harbour terrorism," the Union Minister said.
Earlier, speaking at another event in the city, also got up in connection with the launch of the kisan plan, Mr Goyal said it was a happy coincidence that the AIADMK-BJP alliance was finalised on her 'star' birthday on February 19.
And following that, now the kisan scheme was being rolled out on her anniversary, he said.
The BJP leader hailed J Jayalalithaa as a beloved and revered leader and five time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and added "she was called the iron lady of Tamil Nadu and truly a nationalist."