Bengaluru: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said the state government has not yet finalized the inauguration date for Kochi Metro, the state’s first metro service, and is still trying to rope in Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the same, contrary to what his tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said on Friday.
Surendran had said the government has decided to inaugurate the metro service on 30 May, with or without Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We have invited the Prime Minister to inaugurate the project on 30 May, but his presence is not confirmed... We cannot wait forever for the Prime Minister; if he is unavailable then chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the metro,” he said.
The news had kicked off a controversy, as Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in opposition in Kerala, had come out against government’s decision. The move, despite news reports suggesting that the PM will be overseas on the date, is clearly a plan to sideline the BJP, the party held.
“It is an unwanted controversy,” Vijayan wrote on Facebook, reacting to the news, on Friday. “We have officially invited the Prime Minister in a letter dated 11 April. We still have not received a reply.”
While talking to reporters on Saturday, he reasserted that the state does not want to sideline the prime minister.
“We have requested him to give us a date for inauguration between mid-May and early June. The Prime Minister’s office will be understandably quite busy; we have not received a reply yet. Only if he says no, we will start thinking about alternatives,” he said, as per the live telecast of the press meet.
Kochi Metro will run 13 km in its first phase of operation, spanning 11 stations between Alwaye and Palarivattom in Kerala’s economic hub, Ernakulam district.