'Metro man' E Sreedharan set to join BJP, says 'party can do justice to Kerala'

Updated on Feb 18, 2021 09:37 PM IST
  • Sreedharan’s entry will be a big boost to the saffron party in Kerala where it is a distant third-runner.
E Sreedharan at his residence in Ponnani, Kerela. (HT/Arijit Sen)
E Sreedharan at his residence in Ponnani, Kerela. (HT/Arijit Sen)
By, Thiruvananthapuram

The 'Metro man of India', E Sreedharan (88), sprang a surprise on Thursday by announcing his decision to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is trying desperately to get a foothold in bipolar politics of Kerala.

“It is not an impulsive decision but well thought out one. I feel the BJP is the right party which can do justice to the state. Kerala has immense potential but I feel sorry about the state of affairs,” Sreedharan told the Hindustan Times after party state president K Surendran announced his debut in politics.

He will be given a membership during Surendran’s state-wide pre-poll yatra next week.

A household name in the state, Sreedharan’s entry will be a big boost to the saffron party in Kerala where it is a distant third-runner. Surendran said he will be a candidate in the upcoming assembly elections.

Leading a retired life in his ancestral house in Ponnani in Malappuram district, his decision has created enough ripples in political circles.

“I have been staying in the state for the last ten years and have been observing the political climate closely. Both fronts, the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF, are interested in furthering their organisations. The state has immense potential but development takes a backseat. If I can do something positive, I will be happy,” he said.

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When asked whether any national leader talked to him, he refused to comment. But party insiders said national party chief JP Nadda and Union home Minister Amit Shah were in touch with him.

When asked whether it was a late decision, he evaded a direct reply, saying if his decision can inspire others he will be happy. “The pace of development is very slow in Kerala. I love taking up challenges. Personally, I feel more eminent people should join politics and you can serve people better here,” he said, adding that he was all for healthy politics, not mud-slinging or gimmicks.

He said the BJP has a different perspective when it comes to development and it attracted him to the party. “The Prime Minister is taking the country fast ahead and it is the duty of all to strengthen his hands,” he said. Sreedharan said he will give more emphasis on development-related issues.

The railway civil engineer acquired the sobriquet of the 'Metro man' of India after he oversaw the launch of the metro rail project - a showpiece of the modern urban infrastructure. He retired as the chief of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in 2011 but continues to be associated with many projects. He revolutionised the way urban India commutes.

Sreedharan and former election commissioner TN Seshan were classmates in BEM High School, Palakkad. He graduated from the Government Engineering College, Kakinada and later joined the Indian Railways. Besides Delhi Metro, Lucknow Metro, Pambhan bridge in Rameswaram, Konkan railways and many prestigious projects carry his signature.

In one of the earlier interviews with the HT, he said the underground metro line from Mumbai airport to Colaba was most challenging in his six-decade-long career. He was conferred several honours, including the Padma Shri and the Padma Vibushan.

The ruling CPI(M) and the Congress said his political entry was unexpected. “It is his personal decision. But we feel he chose a wrong party in Kerala,” said Congress leader Mathew Kuzhalnadan. “His joining reiterates the fact people of calibre, credibility & concern for the development of the nation choose BJP,” tweeted Minister of State External Affairs V Muraleedharan.

Political analyst J Prabash said his sudden entry will bring some kind of legitimacy to the BJP in Kerala. “A man of high integrity and status, he will be a good asset to the party. But in the highly political conscious state, it remains to be seen how it can translate into votes,” he said.


    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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