Pitching for a “Team India” of the centre and states for the country’s development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi credited his government’s economic policies for making India the world’s fastest growing nation.
Concluding his two-day visit to West Bengal – the first after becoming prime minister – Modi assured his government’s support in ensuring economic progress of eastern India, and exuded confidence that region will be the stage for the country’ss ecoind green revolution.
The prime minister, who started the Sunday morning on a spiritual note, praying and meditating at the Dakshineswar temple and the Belur Math, later inaugurated the country’s largest blast furnace plant in Burdwan district.
Modi became the first prime minister to visit the age-old Dakshineswar temple, where he touched the feet of goddess Bhabatarini, performed arti and paid homage to the 19th century ascetic Ramakrishna Pramahamsa, who had spent years as its priest.
His next destination was Belur Math, the global headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, in neighbouring Howrah district.
During a hour-long stay, Modi meditated at ascetic-philosopher Swami Vivekananda’s bedroom, and paid homage at the temples dedicated to Ramakrishna Pramahamsa, Swami Brahmananda, Ramkrishna’s consort Sarada Devi and Viveknanada.
Heading to Burnpur, Modi, in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, inaugurated the upgraded and modersnised IISCO Steel Plant (ISP), that houses the country’s largest blast furnace. It has been modernized at a cost of Rs.16,000 crore.
Highlighting the country’s federal structure, Modi described the prime minister and all the chief ministers as ‘Team India’, and said the centre and states together can solve all problems, including issues relating to foreign countries.
He attributed Team India’s efforts for the passage in parliament of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh as well as the new plant.
“This modern plant is an example of how Team India will take the country forward. This plant which was sick, is now standing powerfully on its feet. If the chief minister (Banerjee), the state (West Bengal) government had created hurdles, this wouldn’t have been possible,” said Modi.
Praising Banerjee for stressing on improved centre-state relationship, he said his government, after assuming power, had been endeavouring to strengthen the country’s federal structure.
Modi said: “While the constitution provides a federal structure, for years there has always been tension in centre-state relationships. Those at the centre ignored the states.
“That’s why we endeavoured to strengthen the federal structure and asserted that Delhi will not govern the country alone but all the states together will.”
Modi also thanked Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal for the passage of the key constitutional amendment bill to give effect to the swapping of border land enclaves between India and Bangladesh under a 1974 agreement.
“If international issues can be solved by ‘Team India’, then issues at home can be dealt with ease.”
Taking a veiled dig at the erstwhile Congress-led UPA regime for scams, Modi hailed the policy changes initiated by his government that led to India becoming the world’s fastest growing country.
“During the months of February, March and April (2014) the only news that came were scams… coal scam, submarine scam, scams on the air, water and land,” he said.
“It has been a year of this new government, and today we don’t have news about the coal scam, rather about coal auction,” he said, adding the decision to auction coal has led to states getting richer and using the royalty money from the mines for the welfare of the people.
“We also decided that the money from the auctions will not go to Delhi but to that state’s coffers so that the government can initiate welfare of that state,” said Modi.
He said a foundation was set up from the mines royalty for the welfare of the states.
The prime minister also expressed anguish over India importing steel.
“The irony is we kept exporting iron ore and imported steel. If we have iron ore, we will produce steel,” he asserted.
Modi also said the central government was working on developing the three main resources for funds – agricultural productivity, mineral resources and human resources.
“A year ago the entire world had written off India but now within a year the entire world, be it the IMF, the World Bank or the credit rating agencies, they are unanimously saying India is the fastest growing country in the world,” he asserted.
He also exuded confidence of natural resource-rich eastern India getting developed like its western counterpart.
“States in eastern India are filled with natural resources but still lag behind… eastern India needs to be strengthened… I clearly see the second Green Revolution happening here… it has abundance of water, land and people. It can usher in the revolution,” he said.