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Modi, Jayalalithaa put rivalry aside to discuss India's future

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa both looked ahead to the need for the other to further their political agendas

NEW DELHI: Relations between India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister have not been especially warm as of late.

However, any signs of friction were not apparent as both met to discuss the future.

Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeks the support of J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK Party in the Upper House, where the BJP has a minority, while Ms Jayalalithaa presented an extensive wish list to the Prime Minister, detailing projects and schemes in Tamil Nadu that require central assistance.

Despite some terse words between the Indian Prime Minister and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa during the recent general elections, there were no signs of frostiness at their meeting.

Ms Jayalalithaa had accused the BJP of "betrayal" and of being no different from Congress on the contentious issue of water-sharing between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

This prompted Narendra Modi to criticise her rival party AIADMK of perpetually decimating each other and ignoring the people's welfare.

Instead, both looked ahead to the need for the other to further their political agendas.

For Mr Modi, securing Ms Jayalalithaa's support for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Upper House is strategically crucial.

BJP may have the full majority in the Lower House, but it lacks the numbers in the Upper House to pass important legislations. This means it will have to seek the support of smaller regional parties.

While Ms Jayalalithaa has denied any proposal for her AIADMK Party to join the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, she has not ruled out the possibility of backing the NDA in the Upper House, where it is in a minority.

On the other hand, Ms Jayalalithaa is seeking investment assistance from the BJP-led Centre to fund important infrastructure projects in Tamil Nadu.

A memorandum handed to Mr Modi contained detailed requests for financial support to manage issues around power and water shortages and transport infrastructure.

"The Prime Minister was very receptive, gave a patient hearing and promised to do the (necessary) and said that having been the chief minister himself for 13 years, he knew the difficulties faced by chief ministers of states and he will do everything in his power to see that needs of Tamil Nadu are met," said Ms Jayalalithaa.

BJP leaders have expressed confidence that the two parties will succeed in working on a shared agenda, and expect mutual cooperation.

"I don't think anyone would have a problem if she or anyone is keen on accepting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, the policies that he has chartered and the vision that he has for the country," said M J Akbar, a BJP leader.

Mr Modi is wooing regional parties like Ms Jayalalithaa's AIADMK to shore up strength in the Upper House.

He is not just aiming to deal with potential difficulties facing his priority legislations. A working relationship with these parties will also prevent stronger groups from stonewalling his government in either House. 

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