Updated: February 19, 2021 1:39:20 am
E SREEDHARAN, popularly known as Metro Man for his role in setting up Delhi Metro as a showpiece public transport model, is all set to join the BJP and contest as a candidate for the Kerala Assembly elections slated to be held in April-May, the party’s state chief K Surendran said Thursday.
Sreedharan, 88, is expected to join the party formally on February 21, during Vijayayatra, a pre-poll state-wide tour led by Surendran.
Sreedharan told The Indian Express that his decision was prompted by the belief that “only BJP can deliver results for the state”. He also launched a scathing attack on the two major political groupings in Kerala — the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF — and said that they “are working for furthering their interests”.
Sreedharan, who was also a mentor for Kerala’s showpiece Kochi Metro, targeted the Kerala government and alleged that while there are “advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues about developmental projects”, the result at “the ground level…is nil”.
“When you analyse the Kerala scenario, I see only BJP can deliver results for the state. CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-led UDF are working for furthering their interests. Only BJP is working for the betterment of the country as well as the state,’’ he said.
Sreedharan, who settled in Malappuram district’s Ponnani after his Delhi Metro stint, said he was not averse to the idea of contesting in the Assembly elections, but said that “it is up to the party to take a decision”.
According to Sreedharan, who first hit national headlines in the 1990s by completing the challenging Konkan Railway project in seven years, the BJP “can do many things for Kerala” since the party is ruling at the Centre.
“The CPI(M) will keep on fighting with the Centre and exhaust time finding fault with the Centre. I have realised that neither the LDF nor the UDF can do anything for Kerala’s development. I haven’t sought any personal gains from either of these parties. But I wanted to do something for the state. I am peeved at the fact that not much development has happened in Kerala under this regime,” he said.
Targeting the LDF government, Sreedharan said: “There are only advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues about developmental projects. At the ground level, the result is nil. See the huge debt of the state government. We don’t know how the next government would manage things.”
Asked how his entry will impact the BJP’s prospects, Sreedharan said: “There would be a landslide migration to BJP. I see several like-minded persons either joining BJP or supporting it (in the elections).’’
The BJP has been struggling to set up an electoral base, and is banking on Sreedharan’s reputation “as a doer” and “credibility among all sections of the population”.
Incidentally, during discussions on the Kochi Metro a decade ago, all the political parties in Kerala had joined hands to demand that the project be constructed under Sreedharan’s guidance.
In 2014, Sreedharan had supported Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, saying that while he did not endorse any political party, he expected “a change in decision making process”. Referring to Modi’s performance as Gujarat Chief Minister, Sreedharan had said: “From what I have seen, the decisions he has taken till now were very fast.”
Kerala BJP chief Surendran said that Sreedharan’s entry “shows that state politics is turning in favour of BJP”. “In the coming days, more prominent persons will join the BJP and be in the election fray for NDA,’’ he said.
Sreedharan’s criticism of the state government, meanwhile, drew a sharp response from the CPI(M), which described his political move as “a blot on his illustrious career”.
“It is unfortunate that a person like Sreedharan, who is loved and respected by all across political lines, has joined the BJP, which is based on religious fundamentalism. This is a blot on his illustrious career as an ace engineer. He should have joined hands with secular political parties,” said M A Baby, a Politburo member.
Referring to Sreedharan’s criticism against the LDF government, Baby said: “It is sad that he is forced to speak for the BJP, distorting the facts. Eminent world economists had lauded the achievements of the LDF government in Kerala.”
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