Pitching for a “Team India attitude” to take the country forward, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday it is high time the Centre and states sink differences and work together, a view endorsed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has had her run-ins with the BJP, both in the state and Delhi.
“The country cannot progress without a Team India attitude. The country cannot stand on one pillar at the Centre. It has to stand with a pillar from each of the 30 states,” Modi said after dedicating SAIL’s Burnpur IISCO steel plant to the nation.
“Our Constitution gave us a federal structure. Sadly, Centre-state relations were tense for a long time. I have been a chief minister, and I know this is not desirable.”
“That is why we have brought change, keeping the focus on cooperative federalism… That is why I say Team India… The country cannot progress without a Team India attitude.”
In remarks that cheered Banerjee, the Prime Minister said West Bengal would be key to India’s Act East policy.
He said the Burnpur project would not have been successful had the state government put up roadblocks.
“In the past, we have seen western India move very quickly on economic development, and the eastern end lag behind. Even if one part is weak, India cannot be a strong economy. And if West Bengal is weak, eastern India cannot be strong.”
“West Bengal will lead India’s Act East policy to connect with south-east Asia… In the past, Bengal used to lead the country in economic policies. It will regain its position,” he said.
He said the “second green revolution” would focus on eastern UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura.
In her speech, Banerjee thanked IISCO and the Prime Minister for inviting her to the function. “I have left everything and come for this function.”
She said a joint effort by the Centre and the states to take the country ahead was inevitable. “The Centre and the state will have to work together. If India develops, so will Bengal… The approval of a Rs 20,000-crore expansion plan for the Durgapur Steel Plant is also on the cards. We request you to approve that as well… There will be more projects in Asansol,” she said.
Babul Supriyo, BJP MP from Asansol and Minister of State for Urban Development, said he was very happy with the Sunday development. “It has been an emotional moment for me as well. A year ago, the Prime Minister had come to Asansol to campaign for me. Now, he has come to inaugurate this huge project,” he said.
Supriyo was offered a ride by Banerjee in her car. “Am I supposed to refuse if the Chief Minister asks me to get into her car? In a federal structure, the Centre, state and urban local bodies are separate entities. The instruction from the PM has been that we can fight a political battle but once people give their verdict, we must work together towards development.”
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