Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the NDA government was committed to strengthening initiatives for ensuring universal healthcare and, as part of it, had taken the AIIMS brand to various parts of the country.
Addressing the gathering after laying the foundation stone for AIIMS at Thoppur near Madurai, Modi outlined the initiatives taken by the Centre on the healthcare front.
The AIIMS reflects the vision of “Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat”, he said.
AIIMS in New Delhi had cultivated a brand name for itself in healthcare and with the AIIMS in Madurai to come up, “we can say that this brand of health care has been taken to all corners of country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to Madurai, from Guwahati to Gujarat,” he said.
Expressing confidence that the proposed AIIMS will benefit entire Tamil Nadu, he said “the NDA government is giving great priority to health sector so that everyone is healthy and healthcare is affordable.”
Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, the government has supported upgradation of goverment medical colleges across the country, he said.
Noting that he was happy to inauguate new super specialty blocks in Tamil Nadu government medical colleges, he referred to the Central government health initiative Mission 'Indradhanush'.
The speed and scale of 'dhanush' (arrow) was working and setting a new paradigm in preventive health care.
“Today I am happy to dedicate 12 passport office seva kendras in Tamil Nadu and this initiative is one more example of improving the ease of living for our citizens,” the prime minister added.
The proposed 750-bed modern AIIMS in Madurai, on its completion, will also offer 100 MBBS seats.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who participated in the function, thanked the prime minister for providing the AIIMS facility to Tamil Nadu and urged the Centre to set up a medical college at the backward Ramanathapuram district.
Earlier, the MDMK cadres, led by its chief Vaiko, staged a black flag demonstration against Modi shortly before he arrived, accusing him of betraying the interests of Tamil Nadu.
Police said the protesters were detained.
Releasing black baloons, the protesting party cadres raised slogans against Modi alleging that he betrayed the interests of Tamil Nadu on Cauvery and other issues.
In a counter move, BJP youth wing supporters put up posters sarcastically “welcoming Vaiko”.
The MDMK cadres, however, said the protest was not against the AIIMS.
Slogans like “Go Back Modi” and counter hashtags “Madurai thanks Modi” and “TN welcomes Modi” trended on micro blogging site Twitter.
Tamil Nadu unit BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan and Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan strongly condemned MDMK for the protest.