Kochi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday travel on a Kochi Metro train when he inaugurates Kerala's first metro, it was announced on Wednesday. But "Metro man" E. Sreedharan has not been given a seat on the dais.
In the first 25-km phase, trains will run for 13 km between Palarivattom and Aluva. Work is on the remaining section.
Those on the dais will be Modi, Governor P. Sathasivam, Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Elias George, the Managing Director of Kochi Metro Rail Corp, told the media that the list of invitees to the dais was prepared and sent to the Prime Minister's Office. "The final list is made by the PMO. We have no role in this."
After hearing about the exclusion of Sreedharan, Chennithala and local legislator P.T.Thomas, Vijayan has written to the Prime Minister's office to include these three also.
But now Ernakulam Lok Sabha member K.V.Thomas, state Transport Minister Thomas Chandy and Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain have been allowed on the dais.
Sreedharan told reporters in Thiruvanthapuram that he is not aware of this issue but was not concerned by it.
"There is nothing untoward in this and I do not have any complaints. I am leaving for Kochi now and would take part in the inauguration," he said.
Among others who have been excluded from the dais are former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Reacting to the exclusion of Sreedharan from the dais, P.T. Thomas said: "This shows the arrogance of the BJP.
"When the foundation stone for Kochi Metro was laid by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, none was left out from the dais. This is Kerala's dream project and key people behind this are now asked to sit in the audience. This is totally unfair."
Work on Kochi Metro began in 2012 after the Chandy government entrusted the project to Delhi Metro Rail Corp, with its principal advisor Sreedharan overseeing it.