Remember the scene in S Rajamouli's blockbuster film Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, when Bhallaladeva gets coronated as the King of Mahishmati?
While Bhallaladeva's address to the people of Mahishmati gets a lukewarm response, the people erupt in loud chants of "Baahubali" when Amarendra Baahubali begins to address them. "Baahubali! Baahubali" resonates in the air, as thousands of common people look up to the rightful King of the land.
On Saturday, at the venue of the inauguration ceremony of Kerala's first Metro service in Kochi, viewers on TV were witness to a similar outburst.
The audience broke into applause as KMRL MD Elias George welcomed E Sreedharan in his opening speech, while other dignitaries on the dais were met with a muted response.
The 85-year-old needed no introduction, for the audience broke into a continuous stretch of applause, even forcing Elias George to pause multiple times for the thunderous response to subside.
Watch the video here:
Sreedharan, popularly known as the Metro Man of India, is the Principal Advisor of Delhi Metro Rail Corportation Limited (DMRCL), and oversaw the Kochi Metro project since its inception.
While the protocol did not give a chance for Sreedharan to address the gathering, that did not stop the audience from conveying their support for the man, who maintained his composure all through the event.
Right from when his photograph was flashed on the screen at the beginning of the event, to everytime his name was taken at the event, the audience welcomed it with applause.
The Metro Man's popularity knows no bounds, and the recent controversy over the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) exempting his name from the list of dignitaries on stage and the subsequent reversal of the decision following public outrage, only added to the unconditional support he received at the inaugural ceremony.
Even as the Kerala state government put its foot down and requested the PMO to allow Sreedharan on to the dais, the Metro Man's relationship with Kochi Metro has not been a bed of roses.
Earlier in 2012, during the tenure of the previous UDF government headed by then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, a controversy erupted after Tom Jose, then Principal Secretary, questioned the role of E Sreedharan in the Kochi Metro Project.
Tom Jose, after his tenure as the Managing Director of KMRL, wrote to the Union Secretary for Urban Affairs enquiring the role of E Sreedharan in the Kochi Metro Project. And this, without the knowledge of the then state government. The controversy broke out after CPI (M) leader and MP Rajeev demanded that the state government clarify why Tom Jose had written an official letter seeking clarification on Sreedharan's role, that too, months after he left charge as the MD of KMRL.
Sreedharanâ€™s achievements go far beyond the Kochi Metro, from facing massive challenges while contrasting the Konkan Railways to, of course, the Delhi Metro. Read a popular blog about him written in 2011.