Chennai, Feb. 2: Just a day after she hosted a politically significant dinner for L.K. Advani, Jayalalithaa today shared a platform with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose bete noire she has been in the past.
Having firmed up an ADMK-BJP election alliance with the deputy Prime Minister yesterday, the Tamil Nadu chief minister greeted the Prime Minister with a colourful bouquet in Kanyakumari today.
Jayalalithaa’s appearance at the function marked a big turnaround for she had boycotted a function attended by Vajpayee at Chennai airport in May last year.
She said she skipped the function because DMK Union minister T.R. Baalu had put pressure on the Prime Minister’s Office to deny her a seat on the dais next to Vajpayee.
But a lot has changed since then, with the ADMK and BJP deciding to fight elections together after a miffed DMK walked out on the National Democratic Alliance government.
Vajpayee was in Kanyakumari to lay the foundation stone for the four-lane north-south highway corridor project which starts at the southern end with the four-laning of the Kanyakumari-Madurai highway. This will eventually connect the southernmost tip of the country with Srinagar.
“We value our partnership with Jayalalithaa. Under her leadership, Tamil Nadu has taken massive strides in socio-economic development,” Vajpayee said at the function, with the chief minister by his side.
The Prime Minister said he was happy Jayalalithaa had agreed to attend the function.
Vajpayee, who also addressed a public meeting at nearby Nagercoil afterwards, said the NDA had provided five years of “stability and good governance” with special focus on security and development.
“India is today one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” said Vajpayee, who listed the Golden Quadrilateral highway project as one of the many projects his government had begun to hasten economic development.
The Prime Minister said the cultural significance of Kanyakumari symbolised the “unity and greatness of India”.
He added that Indians had learned “lessons of patriotism” from Kanyakumari and Kashmir.
Jayalalithaa thanked Vajpayee for the highway project, which she said would help foster national integration.
The chief minister urged the Prime Minister at the function’s bhoomi puja to clear the “dream” Sethusamudram (deepening the Palk Straits) project as it would boost the economic growth of the state and country alike.
Union surface transport and highways minister Major General B.C. Khanduri was among those who attended the function.