Kochi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday become the first official passenger on the metro in Kochi, which he will inaugurate. However, a list of arrangements made public has triggered a controversy because E Sreedharan is not among the special or VIP guests who will be seated on a stage with Mr Modi.
- Kochi metro to be inaugurated on Saturday by PM Modi
- Metro expert E Sreedharan not on list of those who will be on stage
- He was on our list, PM's office changed it, claims Kochi metro
Construction of the Kochi metro began in 2012; it was tasked to the Delhi Metro Rail Corp, whose top advisor Mr Sreedharan, popularly known as India's "metro man" for the impressive local rail network that he created in the national capital.
The Kerala government, which is headed by Pinari Vijayan, has written to the Prime Minister's Office asking it to revise the seating plan for the stage to accommodate Mr Sreedharan along with leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala and Kochi lawmaker PT Thomas.
Local officials claim that they had shortlisted 14 people including Mr Sreedharan for stage presence.
"The final list is made by the PMO (Prime Minister's Office). We have no role in this," said Elias George, a top official of the Kochi Metro Rail Corp, according to news agency IANS.
Mr Sreedharan said there was "nothing unusual about the decision and that he accepted it," reported news site Manorama.
"This shows the arrogance of the BJP," alleged Mr Thomas, the legislator from Kochi who was allegedly edited out of the list sent to Kerala by Mr Modi's office.
The stretch that is being inaugurated this weekend will see trains running for 13 km on the 25 km stretch.