A day after controversy broke out over the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office excluding Metro Man E Sreedharan from the inauguration of the Kochi Metro, the decision has been reversed.
On Wednesday, it was widely reported that Sreedharan, who had overseen the entire Metro project as the Principal Advisor of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, had been excluded from the list vetted by the PMO of dignitaries for the inaugural ceremony.
The Kerala state government had also written to the PMO to include the names of Sreedharan, Chennithala and MLA PT Thomas in the inauguration.
With the move inviting severe criticism, the PMO has decided that both Sreedharan and Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala will be present on the dais. KMRL MD Elias George, who is to deliver the welcome address, has also been given a place on the dais.
This was first confirmed by BJP state President Kummanam Rajasekharan, who told the media that the PMO had reversed its decision, and was later confirmed by the Chief Ministerâ€™s Office.
However, the PMO has not given permission for MLA PT Thomas to be on the dais.
In its vetted list, which became available on Wednesday, the PMO had only approved six persons to be present on the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi â€“ CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Governor P Sathasivam, MP KV Thomas, Minister Thomas Chandy and Mayor Soumini Jain.
Of these persons, only the PM, CM Pinarayi and Minister Naidu were authorised to address the gathering.
According to the letter sent by Chief Secretary Nalini Netto to the PMO, the list that had been forwarded by the state govt had recommended that 17 people be seated on the dais for the inaugural, with 10 of them addressing the gathering. MP KV Thomas, MLA PT Thomas and Elias George were supposed to speak according to the plan.
Mayor Soumini Jain, Chief Secretary Nalini Netto, MLA PT Thomas, Ministers Thomas Chandy, E Chandrasekhan, Mathew T Thomas, Ramachandran Kadannapally, Secretary of Urban Development Ministry Rajeev Guha were to be the other dignitaries seated on the dais.
Besides widespread outrage, the PMO's controversial decision to exclude Sreedharan in particular had also invited reams of caustic internet humour, with Keralites responding with a series of memes on the issue.