Escalating her attack on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday dismissed the Gujarat government’s claims of development as an “illusion”. She said her government has outperformed the Modi government in all important sectors, including social indicators and industry.
Jaya’s statement came a day after Modi said in an interview that he had an excellent personal relationship with her. But that did not stop him from repeatedly accusing the two Dravidian parties of being interested only in settling personal scores rather than working for the people.
“An illusion has been created that Gujarat is the top performing state in the country in all facets. But that is not true. Gujarat is engrossed in publicising itself whereas Tamil Nadu, under me, is not interested in just talking and advertising, and is instead focused on helping the people. And if a government with our partnership comes to power at the Centre, this could improve even more,” said Jaya at a public meeting at Krishnagiri.
“In all sectors, Tamil Nadu has outperformed Gujarat as the top state. The figures I read out may make some in India sweat, but this is the truth,” she said.
Jaya then reeled out statistics to show that Tamil Nadu was ahead of Gujarat in all important indices — higher GSDP (TN third, Gujarat fifth), software export (TN third, Gujarat eleventh), FDI inflow (TN Rs 15,252 crore, Gujarat Rs 2,676 crore in 2012-13), lower poverty (TN 11.30 per cent, Gujarat 16.60 per cent), infant mortality rate (TN second, Gujarat eleventh), maternal mortality rate (TN 90/ lakh, Gujarat 122/ lakh), industrial units (TN 36,996, Gujarat 22,220), graduates employed (TN 14.30 per cent, Gujarat 10 per cent), foodgrain production (TN 101.51 lakh metric tonnes, Gujarat 88.74 lakh metric tonnes in 2011-12).
She said Tamil Nadu also has the maximum number of people covered under PDS, while the situation is different in Gujarat. Jaya also listed several welfare measures introduced by her government, including distribution of 20 kg free rice, marriage assistance for women, free school education, free books, uniforms, cycles and laptops, mixer-grinders and cattle.
The point that Tamil Nadu is a better performer than Gujarat has been raised by DMK leader M K Stalin and CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat also.
Referring to Modi’s speech at Salem on Wednesday that the state’s water and power problems could be resolved if former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee’s national river interlinking project was taken up, Jaya said the proposal did not progress beyond talks. She said the state has undertaken some interlinking projects, but is unable to obtain funds from the Centre.
“Will the BJP take the responsibility of providing the funds? Will it at least take the responsibility that the state’s share of water from the Cauvery river will be given?” she asked.
With the poll campaign entering the final phase, the personal equations that the two leaders have professed to share seem forgotten. Jaya is forced to prove her sincerity in forming a non-Congress, non-BJP government at the Centre, and is also facing severe criticism from NDA allies like the DMDK and PMK.