E Sreedharan may have needed the state government’s intervention to get a place on the dais for the Kochi Metro inauguration but when he did, the loudest cheers of the audience were reserved for him. So much so that KMRL MD Elias George, while mentioning Sreedharan’s contribution, had to wait for several seconds for the applause to die down during his address.
Towards the end of his welcome address, George said, “I would be remiss if I did not specifically welcome Dr Sreedharan…(heavy applause)…who is one of India’s most distinguished engineers and a source of inspiration for all Indians. None of us are in any doubt that our Metro would not have been completed today without his dedication and commitment. I have great pleasure in welcoming you, sir, to this function.” There were loud cheers and whistling in the audience as Sreedharan’s name was mentioned as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others looked on.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu also mentioned Sreedharan’s contributions in their speeches at the inauguration function.
The names of Sreedharan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala were approved by the PMO in the list of dignitaries on the dais after the state government requested the same. However, the ‘Metro Man’ himself said that he was not disappointed that his name was ruled out in the initial list. “I am here only with all of you,” he had told reporters.
Sreedharan, who served as the DMRC’s managing director between 1995 and 2012, came on to the Kochi Metro project as a principal advisor. He said that he will not be involved in the phase – 2 of the Metro’s construction as KMRL is equipped to work on it.
There were also rumours that Sreedharan was being considered as the NDA candidate for President though he himself quashed the rumours.