Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a number of projects in Chennai and applauded farmers of the state, months ahead of the Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.

Inaugurating the extension of metro rail in Chennai, which will commence its passenger services from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar, the prime minister said that the project was completed on time in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, The Hindu reported.

Modi also flagged off the fourth railway line between Chennai Beach and Attipattu and the railway electrification of a single line between Villupuram and Thiruvarur.

He hailed the farmers of the state, while laying the foundation stone for extension and renovation of the Grand Anicut Canal System. His comments came even as thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months for withdrawal of the agricultural laws, which they say will benefit corporate sector at their expense.

“I want to appreciate the farmers of Tamil Nadu for record food grain production and good use of water resources,” the prime minister said, according to NDTV. “We have to do whatever we can do to conserve water. Always remember the mantra of per drop, more crop.”

Handing over the indigenously designed and manufactured Arjun Mk-1A tank to the Army, Modi said that Tamil Nadu should evolve as the tank manufacturing hub of the country, like it has done in the case of automobiles, ANI reported. “A tank made in Tamil Nadu will be used to defend our borders in northern India,” he said. “This shows the united nature of India.”

While speaking on the defence sector, the prime minister mentioned the Pulwama attack, as Sunday marked the second anniversary of the incident in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed after an explosive-laden car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into their bus in February 2019.

“India believes in peace,” Modi said. “But, it will protect sovereignty at all costs.”

Later in the day, Modi will also visit Kochi in Kerala to lay the foundation stone and dedicate various projects to the country. Both Tamil Nadu and Kerala are scheduled to go to polls in April-May this year.