Cooperative federalism best way to develop India: Modi in Kerala

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said his government has focused on cooperative federalism while underlining the importance of the development of states to that of the country as he laid foundation stones and inaugurated development projects worth over ₹3,200 crore in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off the Thiruvananthapuram Central-Kasaragod Vande Bharat Express train from Thiruvananthapuram Central railway station on Tuesday. (ANI)

He said investments in connectivity expand the scope of services, reduce distance and connect various cultures without discrimination on the basis of caste and creed or economic status.

Modi referred to meetings and events of the intergovernmental forum G20 in Kerala and said they have provided more global exposure to the state.

India assumed the forum’s presidency in December and is hosting global leaders and meetings across the country this year.

Modi earlier inaugurated the Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi-high-speed Vande Bharat Express, Kerala’s first such train, and the country’s first water-integrated metro system in Kochi and a Digital Science Park.

He said these initiatives will further the state’s development and connectivity. Modi praised the state’s people, saying their hard work and politeness give them a unique identity. He spoke about the education and awareness levels of Kerala. “…people of Kerala are capable of understanding the global scenario and they can appreciate how India is being considered a vibrant spot of development amid difficult times…”

Modi said India’s development is being acknowledged globally. He said the trust the world has shown towards India is because of a decisive government at the Centre. Modi said the government takes quick and firm decisions for the people’s welfare of the country. He added unprecedented investment has been made in strengthening and modernising the infrastructure.

Modi also referred to investments made towards enhancing the skills of the youth and the commitment of his government towards ease of living and ease of doing Business.

“Our government lays emphasis on cooperative federalism. It considers the development of the states as the formula for the development of the country. If Kerala develops, the country’s development will be faster. We are working with this service spirit,” he said.

He said his government’s outreach to the Indian diaspora was one of the reasons for India’s growing stature. Modi added this has also benefited the Keralites abroad. “India’s growing might has helped the Indian diaspora greatly.”

Modi said work on connectivity and infrastructure has been undertaken at an unprecedented speed and scale over the last nine years. “…in this year’s budget also, it is proposed to spend more than 10 lakh crore on infrastructure. The public transport and logistics sector is being completely transformed. We are moving towards the golden age of Indian railways.”

Modi said the average rail budget has increased fivefold since 2014. He referred to the development of the railways in Kerala over the last nine years. Modi added work for the redevelopment of three major railway stations in Kerala has been initiated with a vision to make it a multimodal transport hub.

“Vande Bharat Express is the identity of aspirational India,” Modi said. He added the rail network has been transformed and that it has made it possible to run such semi-high-speed trains.

He said Vande Bharat trains are connecting places of cultural, spiritual, and tourist importance.

Modi spoke about the environmental benefits of the modern train. “…work has been initiated to prepare the Thiruvananthapuram-Shoranur section for semi-high speed trains. Upon completion, it will become possible to run semi-high-speed trains from Thiruvananthapuram to Mangaluru.”

Modi said the water metro is a made-in-India project, which will make modern and cheap means of transport accessible for the people living in the islets of Kochi. He added it will also provide intermodal connectivity between the bus terminal and the metro network. “…it will benefit backwater tourism in the state apart from easing the traffic congestion in the city.”

Modi said that the water metro will become a model for the other states in the country. He also underlined the importance of digital connectivity.

Modi arrived in Kerala for a two-day visit on Monday when he addressed a youth conclave and met Christian leaders in Kochi.

In his address to the youth conclave in Kochi, Modi on Monday said Kerala will also soon accept the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after Goa and the northeastern states as he called for a change in the state. Modi blamed the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front and the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front for holding back the state’s development.

The BJP last year returned to power in Goa, which has a 25.10% Christian population. It shares power in alliance with regional parties in the Christian-majority northeastern states of Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Modi’s meeting with Syro-Malabar church head Cardinal George Alancherry and eight other Christian leaders in Kerala on Monday came against the backdrop of the BJP attempts to reach out to the Christians, which account for 18.38% of the state’s population while Hindus 54.73%, and Muslims 26.56%.

The BJP lost its lone seat in Kerala in the 2021 assembly elections. Outreach to the Christian community is seen as a key aspect of the BJP’s attempts to make inroads into the state.

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