E Sreedharan, fondly known as the Metro Man of India, who announced his decision to join the BJP just ahead of the Kerala Assembly polls, has plans to help the ‘national party’ dig its roots deeper in the state which so far has been alternately ruled by LDF and UDF governments. In an interaction with The Federal, the 88-year-old says why he stands by the policy decisions of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and why the southern state is in dire need of a BJP rule.
“My intention is to make the BJP in Kerala a party that has a substantial role in governance. I will contest if the party wants me to do, but more than that, I want to increase the number of votes and number of seats,” Sreedharan said. He is expected to formally join the saffron party during its Vijay Yatra in Kerala on Sunday, and may also contest the polls in May.
Sreedharan says he has faith that the BJP will bring development to the state as it is a national party and that he wants the party to form a government in the style of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, a successful project he is credited for setting into track.
“Neither the UDF nor the LDF is present on the national level. But when the BJP is running the government at the Centre, I think Kerala would benefit if it comes to power here,” he said.
He said the ‘so called’ developmental activities undertaken by the ruling LDF, which are sluggish to begin with, are not good for the people.
“So far I have worked for Kerala as a technocrat. People know my honesty, integrity and commitment to the work. The work culture needs to be changed. We can’t take 10-15 years to complete a project. Neither UDF nor LDF can bring this work culture because their interests are different,” says the Padma awardee.
He calls frequent borrowing and the burden of debts a major issue in the state.
“The state has fallen into financial bankruptcy, the government goes on borrowing by legal and sometimes by extra-constitutional means like that of KIIFB. Every Keralite carries the liability of 1.2 lakhs. This is only increasing as the government continues borrowing. Another major problem in Kerala is unemployment. No industry has come to Kerala over the last 20 years because of union activities,” says Sreedharan.
He, however clarifies that he is not against unions, but also believes that their activities should not obstruct the work. “The investors should be given the assurance that their interest will be taken care of,” he says.
Sreedharan says if he is elected by the people, austerity would be his style of governance.
“We have to bring down the unnecessary expenditure. There are 15 to 20 people in the office of every minister working as personal staff. Even union ministers do not have more than three. I need only one person as secretary,” he says.
Calling himself a staunch follower of the BJP for a long time, Sreedharan says the party often is misconstrued as a communal outfit while it is really patriotic in its ideologies.
“There are only two categories of people in India. Those who love the country and those who do not. BJP is patriotic. BJP is not a communal party. BJP is unnecessarily blamed for being communal,” Sreedharan says.
Sreedharan says that he agrees with every policy decision taken by the Modi government. “Demonetization was a masterstroke. We could curtail corruption and black money,” says Sreedharan.
He says that the BJP’s decision to not field any candidate above 75 years of age would not be applicable in Kerala and thus there is hope for him. “That is a decision taken by Narendra Modi in the national level, but it will not be applicable in Kerala, I think,” he said.