With ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan’s name missing from the list of dignitaries who will be on the dais when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the Kochi Metro on Saturday, the Kerala government has written to the Prime Minister’s Office and urged it to reconsider the decision and include him among the guests. Sreedharan is principal adviser to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which completed the project in four years. News that he will not be on the dais when the first Metro train rolls out officially has sparked a controversy in Kerala, where the project has been riding on the image of the ‘Metro Man’, as Sreedharan is popularly called.
As per the programme cleared by PMO, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and local legislator P T Thomas were among others not included among guests on the dais. The state government had reportedly given a list of 17 people who it wanted to share the dais with Prime Minister Modi. The list included Sreedharan, Chennithala, Thomas and Chief Secretary Nailin Netto, among others.
But the schedule ratified by the PMO has names of six people, besides Modi, who will be on the dais during Saturday’s programme. These are Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala’s Transport Minister Thomas Chandy, local MP K V Thomas, and Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain.
Of them, only Modi, Vijayan and Naidu are slated to address the function. Kochi Metro Rail Limited managing director Elias George, who will deliver the welcome address, has also not been given a seat on the dais.
Reacting to his exclusion from among guests on the dais, Sreedharan said he has no complaints. “I would certainly attend the function,’’ he told the media. Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said Kochi Metro is “our baby” and thus “we will not boycott” the inauguration. “Kochi Metro is a dream project of Kerala. Its inauguration should be held without any controversy. It was up to the government to decide who should be invited for the event,’’ the Congress leader said.