In a huge boost to the party just ahead of the Kerala Assembly elections, India’s 'Metro Man' E Sreedharan is all set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, said Kerala BJP president K Surendran on Thursday.
E Sreedharan will be formally inducted into the party during the BJP’s 'Vijaya Yathra' being organised from February 21 from Kasaragod.
He has expressed his willingness to work with the BJP, Surendran told reporters in Kozhikode. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will flag off the rally.
"It is not a sudden decision. I have been in Kerala for the past decade and wanted to do something for the state. I alone cannot do things. BJP is different and that's why I joined the party,” Sreedharan told the Malayalam newspaper, Manorama, according to a News18 report.
"The news is correct. I am going to join the BJP," the 89-year-old told The News Minute. When asked the reason behind the decision, he said that he has been living in Kerala for the last ten years and tried his best to bring in development in the state but was met with political resistance.
“I have been living in Kerala for 10 years, but I have noticed that the LDF and UDF are only interested in their political growth, not in the state’s growth. In this scenario, it is only the BJP that can do something for the state,” he said.
He added that Narendra Modi is the most promising prime minister and he has worked with him closely, which inspired him to join the party. "He is one of the best prime ministers India has seen, I have worked with him closely," he said.
“I have to inform you of very important news. A son of Kerala who is globally renowned is to become part of the BJP. ‘Metro Man’ Sreedharan, the pride of Kerala who raised the reputation of Kerala in the world has decided to work with the BJP. He has informed that he will now onwards work joining the BJP," Surendran said.
"Both the political fronts in the state (United Democratic Front and Left Democratic Front) had opposed Sreedharan. Both the fronts would take commission for every developmental activity in the state. It was when Sreedharan took a stand against the commission that Oommen Chandy (former Chief Minister and Congress leader) harmed him and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took a similar stand,” Surendran alleged.
However, it’s not clear if Sreedharan will contest the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Sreedharan told TNM that it's for the BJP to decide whether he will contest.
"Him joining BJP is a reflection of the people's emotions. We have informed him of our demand to contest the elections. Several renowned people will join the BJP in the days to come and contest the elections for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the BJP. Details of that will be informed in the coming days," K Surendran said.
Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, popularly known as the 'Metro Man', is largely credited for changing the face of public transport in India by his leadership in building Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro, when he served as its managing director between 1995 and 2012.
In June 2019, Sreedharan, who is also a Padma Vibhushan awardee, submitted his resignation as the Principal Advisor to Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) citing health issues.
Ahead of the 2014 election, Sreedharan had praised then prime ministerial candidate Modi, telling reporters, "Our problem is basically delay in taking government decisions and bureaucracy is responsible for it. I think there will be a change in the decision making process. From what I have seen, the decisions he (Modi) has taken till now were very fast.”
Sreedharan, who advised the Kerala government on Metro projects in the state, said he will now end the practice. "I will focus on BJP-centric activities," he told Manorama.
Additional inputs: PTI, News18, The News Minute