Moots grouping of States, each with specific requirements

In a political landscape known to espouse federalism, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, said on Sunday the States would be equal partners in national development (if the BJP-led NDA formed a government at the Centre).

At an election rally here, Mr. Modi promised the Tamil Nadu people that the new government at the Centre would follow federalism in letter and in spirit. The Congress had treated the States as subordinates in the past 10 years of its rule, but regional aspirations were the catalysts for national development.

As a Chief Minister for four terms, he said, he knew how the States were ill-treated, an approach that eroded India’s federal structure. That was why the BJP came up with the Team India concept in its manifesto, wherein the Prime Minister would sit with all Chief Ministers to take the nation forward.

Mr. Modi also mooted the concept of grouping of the States as regions, like Himalayan, north east and coastal states, each with specific requirements based on which development would be planned.

Mr. Modi was critical of Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, referring to him as the “recounting minister” to the laughter of the sizable crowd. Ridiculing him for not contesting the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP leader said it showed that the Congress leaders had no courage to face the people whose anger was evident.

On the fishermen issue, Mr. Modi said there had to be a strong government at the Centre to protect the rights of fishermen, be it in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat or Kerala.

At the meet to canvass votes for the BJP’s South Chennai candidate, L. Ganesan, Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK, a key catalyst in formation of the rainbow alliance, participated.

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