With the state Bharatiya Janata Party criticising the Left government for ignoring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s schedule while deciding on the inauguration date for the Kochi Metro, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday clarified the timing would finalised only after consulting the Prime Minister’s Office.
Vijayan, speaking to reporters in Kannur, said: “We are waiting to hear from the prime minister’s office. No dates have been finalised as yet. Once we hear from the PMO, then only will the date for the inauguration be fixed.”
He added it was a “misunderstanding” that made State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran to announce that the metro would be inaugurated on May 30.
The controversy erupted after Surendran told reporters in the state capital yesterday that the date for the inaugural run has been fixed for May 30 and the state had invited Prime Minister Modi.
The Vijayan-led Kerala government is celebrating its first year in office from May 20 to June 5. “We have been asked for clarifications from the PMO and we are now waiting to hear from them. In case the prime minister’s dates are not available latest by June 5, then our chief minister will inaugurate the Metro on May 30,” Surendran said.
This announcement vexed the state BJP.
According to the BJP leadership, the prime minister’s schedule is fixed months in advance. They claimed Modi was leaving for Europe on May 29 and returning on June 4, with the next two days in Delhi.
State BJP general secretary M T Ramesh told reporters that the metro was a major project where the Centre too had allocated funds. Incidentally, the Union ministry of urban development has not been informed about the inauguration.
Speaking to reporters, state BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran termed the controversy a political conspiracy hatched by the Left government.
“After getting the funds, consultancies and other help from the Centre, the Vijayan government should have got in touch with the PMO and fixed the inauguration date keeping the premier’s schedule in mind.
“The prime minister’s tour programme is available on the internet. This is nothing but a conspiracy to keep out our prime minister from the inauguration, which is really condemnable,” Rajasekheran said.
The Rs51.8bn metro project is set to run for 25km from Alwaye to Petta. However, the opening would see the train service operating for 13km from Alwaye to Palarivattom.
The Congress-led Oommen Chandy government had taken up the ambitious project in 2005. Later when the V S Achuthanandan government took over in 2006, the project went into a limbo, only to be put back on track by Chandy in 2011.
Work on Kochi Metro began in 2012 when then prime minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the work on the project after the Chandy government entrusted the same to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) with its principal advisor, E Sreedharan, overseeing it.
Chandy in 2016 flagged off the first test run of the project.
The Congress-led opposition has refused to be drawn into the controversy, with leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala saying they do not wish to make a comment.
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