‘Metro man’ E Sreedharan joined the BJP last month (File)

Thiruvananthapuram:

The Kerala unit of the BJP will ask the party’s central leadership to project ‘metro man’ E Sreedharan, who joined the party last week, as its chief ministerial candidate ahead of next month’s election, state BJP chief K Surendran said Thursday afternoon.

“‘Metro man’ E Sreedharan built (a) bridge in five months without corruption. Not like the flyover which had to be brought down and was reflective of CPM-UDF (mis)-rule. We have requested the party to make E Sreedharan the Chief Minister candidate,” Mr Surendran said.

“I will not be working like a politician… I will work like a technocrat,” Mr Sreedharan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

If the BJP’s central leadership does approve the request, it will run contrary to the party’s unwritten rule – that nobody over the age of 75 can be considered for a ministerial berth or role.

Mr Sreedharan will turn 89 in June. There is, however, immediate precedence for exceptions to that rule; BS Yediyurappa was 76 when he was sworn in as Chief Minister of Karnataka in 2019.

For his part, Mr Sreedharan has outlined his focus areas for the state and, last month, told news agency PTI that it would be difficult to achieve his goals “unless I am Chief Minister”.

“My main idea is to bring BJP to power in Kerala. If BJP comes to power in Kerala, there will be three to four major areas we want to focus. One is infrastructure development in a big way and another is to bring industry to the state,” he said.

“If BJP wants, I will contest (the elections),” he said during an interview over phone, adding, “(and) to tell you very frankly, unless I am Chief Minister these priorities cannot be achieved.”

Earlier today Mr Sreedharan made headlines as he visited the Palarivattom flyover in Kochi – dressed in the uniform of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). He retired as the chief of the Delhi Metro in 2011.

“This will be the last day I will wear this uniform. I wore the DMRC’s typical outdoor uniform for the first time in November 1997 in Delhi. Same practice I continued for the last 24 years,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Congress in Kerala – the principal opposition – has been circumspect about Mr Sreedharan’s possible electoral plunge.

Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor said Mr Sreedharan would have a “minimal impact”.

“When I joined politics at 53, I thought I had left it too late to make the kind of impact I felt I was capable of. What can I say about someone who is 88?” he asked, adding, “The high point of the impact (of E Sreedharan) will turn out to be this announcement itself.”

With input from PTI

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