narendra modi
Prime Minister Narendra ModiIANS

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 the Rs 1,264 crore AIIMS at Thoppur near Madurai in Tamil Nadu, he outlined the initiatives taken by the Centre on the health care 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 the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to Madurai, from Guwahati to Gujarat," he said.

Expressing confidence that the proposed AIIMS will benefit the entire Tamil Nadu, he said: "the NDA government is giving great priority to the health sector so that everyone is healthy and healthcare is affordable." Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, the government has supported the upgradation of government medical colleges across the country, he said.

Noting that he was happy to inaugurate new super speciality blocks in Tamil Nadu government medical colleges, he referred to the Central government health initiative Mission 'Indradhanush'. The speed and scale of 'danush' (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 here, on its completion, will also offer 100 MBBS seats. Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who participated in the function, thanked the Prime Minister for providing the AIIMS facility to Tamil Nadu and urged upon 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 here, accusing him of betraying the interests of Tamil Nadu. Police said the protesters were detained.

Releasing black balloons, 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.