Chennai: Union Home Minister Amit Shah, accompanied by Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, on Saturday paid his tributes to former state chief ministers MGR and J Jayalalitha at an event organised for the foundation laying of several development projects.
J Jayalalithaa had served six times as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for over fourteen years between 1991 and 2016. From 1989 she was the general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). The veeteran politician and film actress, who passed away in 2016, had often been regarded as having fostered a 'personality cult' in the state.
The same can be said for Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran (popularly known as M.G.R.), the famous politician and actor who served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nad for ten years between 1977 and 1987. He broke away from the M Karunanidhi-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK party) in 1972 to form the AIADMK, which spearheaded a revolution in the state's politics.
Both personalities were regarded as cultural icons in Tamil Nadu, not just in politics but also for their influence in Tamil cinema.
Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah on Saturday landed in Chennai earlier in the day, following which he was received by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswamy and AIADMK leader O Panneeraselvam, among others, at the Meenambakkam International Airport in the city.
He will lay the foundation stone for the reservoir at Thervoykandigai built at a cost of Rs 380 crore and lay the foundation for various infrastructure projects worth a whopping Rs 67,378 crore in Tamil Nadu.
Shah would be laying foundation stone of Phase II of the Chennai Metro Rail project (Rs 61,843 crore), elevated corridor on Coimbatore-Avinashi Road (Rs 1,620 crore), construction of a new barrage across the Cauvery at Nanjai Pugalur in Karur district (Rs 406 crore), Chennai Trade Centre extension project (Rs 309 crore), Indian Oil Corporation Terminal at Vallur in Tiruvallur district (Rs 900 crore), Lube plant at Amullaivoyal (Rs 1,400 crore) and a new berth at Kamarajar port in Chennai (Rs 900 crore) to boost cargo handling, as per the official statement.
The Union Home Minister also sprang a surprise here when he virtually broke protocol to get out of his vehicle and walk on the busy GST Road outside the airport to greet supporters, minutes after he landed here for a two-day visit of the city.
He walked a short distance, waving at scores of BJP and AIADMK workers who had gathered to receive him with their respective party flags.
Accompanied by BJP National General Secretary and party in-charge of poll-bound Tamil Nadu, CT Ravi, and Murugan, with his security detail in tow, the Home Minister warmly waved at the overjoyed supporters who had thronged the airport since the morning.
Shah, who thanked the metropolis for its love, said it was "great" to be in Tamil Nadu.
A heavy security cover has been provided in the city following Shah's visit, during which he will meet state BJP functionaries and possibly discuss Tamil Nadu elections, due next April-May, before leaving on Sunday morning.
Shah's visit assumes significance as BJP prepares itself for the Assembly polls scheduled in mid-2021 in Tamil Nadu.
(With inputs from agencies)