A tussle over Kochi Metro’s date of inauguration has broken out between the ruling LDF and the BJP. This after Kerala's Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran announced on Friday that the Kochi Metro will be inaugurated on May 30.
Declaring the date of inauguration, Minister Surendran said that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the Metro, if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unable to make it due to a scheduled foreign trip.
"The state government cannot indefinitely postpone the date, based on the PM's convenience. The inauguration shall be conducted in association with the celebrations regarding LDF government's one year in office," the Minister said.
However, Chief Minister Pinarayi has since clarified noting, "The date hasn't been fixed, we have invited the PM for it. We understand that he is trying his best to accommodate this in his schedule. We are in constant touch with the PM's office and we expect we will get a suitable date soon. Only then will the date of inauguration be decided. " He also added, "There has been a confusion. The government hasn't taken any decision to hold the inauguration on May 30.We are still waiting to hear from PMO. In case they tell us that he isn't available, only then will we think about the next step.”
But Minister Surendran’s announcement has irked the state BJP, which was quick to hit out at the Kerala government for not taking the PM's schedule into consideration.
The BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan accused the government of deliberately keeping Prime Minister Narendra Modi out of the function.
"Kerala government clearly knew that PM Modi won't be available that day, that he would be on a foreign trip. They have deliberately fixed the Metro inauguration on that day, fully knowing that the PM of the country won't be able to attend it and this is completely wrong. PM is the head of the country. The Metro project is something that the people of Kerala can be proud of and it is the PM who has to come to Kerala to inaugurate it," Kummanam said.
He said that while the state government has been consistently giving assurances that they would invite the PM, "they have failed to schedule the event according to the PM's convenience."
Calling it a shameless, selfish political conspiracy, Kummanam went on to attack the Pinarayi-led state government.
"PM has expressed so much enthusiasm in being part of the inaugural ceremony. But since he will be abroad till June 4, what is the urgency for the Kerala government to hold the inauguration on May 30? This means that Kerala government has decided a date based on its own convenience and has played politics by doing so. The central government has contributed financially to this project and has also made fruitful contributions to the project. But when the project is completed and is in the inauguration phase, the state government has completely ignored the Centre. There is nothing wrong in saying that it’s a political conspiracy," Kummanam lashed out.
While common courtesy demands that the matter be discussed with the Ministry of Urban Development and subsequently discussed with the PM to arrive at a suitable date, the Kerala government has not followed any of this, Kummanam alleged.
The BJP leader said that a decision on what the party would do about the Kerala government's stand, would be taken after discussions with the Centre.
After being in the works for four years, Kochi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRCL) was issued a clearance certificate earlier this month. In the first phase, the metro will function on a 13 km stretch, from Aluva to Palarivattom.