New Delhi: Why did a highly respected person such as Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, Principal Adviser to the Delhi Metro, choose to join the saffron party when most of the intellectuals in the country are staying away from it? Why is the BJP which has sent all those who are above seventy five years of age either to Margdarshak Mandal or Raj Bhavans, proposing that he contest the forth coming Kerala Assembly elections at the age of 88?
Formalities like taking membership of the BJP would be completed before 21 February 2021 when Sreedharan is expected to join the party at the inauguration of the statewide Vijaya Yatra from Kasaragod.
Sreedharan while speaking to the Hindu on Thursday said,” Since I have settled down in Kerala, I have seen different governments and the United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front have not been able to do anything substantial for the people over the years. Projects are delayed and corruption is rampant. Only parties leading the coalition fronts had benefited. There is no rapport with the Union government and the State is the ultimate loser and the political parties the gainer. A BJP government (in Kerala) can alter the scenario.”
“There are black sheep in every party but the BJP is different because it has very few black sheep. Moreover, they do not give patronage to them,” he commented. Sreedharan admitted that he started liking the BJP since Narendra Modi became prime minister. He worked with Modi when the latter was chief minister of Gujarat.
Sreedharan was right when he said no major industry went to Kerala in the last two decades of UDF and LDF rule. It is also true that only industries can usher in employment and growth. But where is the guarantee that there would be BJP government at the Centre after 2024? May be a Congress-led coalition there and UDF in Kerala might come into power in which case it will be better for Kerala to go back to the UDF as is the experience so far alternating between the LDF and the UDF.
Since Sreedharan has a reputation of being an able and honest technocrat-administrator and a spotless character, the BJP leadership must have thought he would be ideal to lead the BJP campaign in Kerala. The Kerala unit has no leader of stature to boast of to run the campaign against stalwarts of the CPM such as Pinarayi Vijayan, MA Baby or Vijayaraghavan and Congress leaders like Mullapalli Ramachandran, Antony, Oomen Chandy or Ramesh Chennitala. Sreedharan would be a fresh face to counter the known faces of the CPM and the Congress. Though an octogenarian, Sreedharan is in his pink of health and has been working for 14 hours a day even now. It is a gamble on the part of the BJP which has nothing to lose in Kerala. That could be the reason why it had put aside the stipulation of age, as a special case, for Sreedharan.
For Sreedharan to opt for politics at this old age, the main reason could be his strong belief that infrastructure projects would come to Kerala only if the BJP forms the next government. His calculation is that the BJP would continue to be in power at the centre even after 2024 or 2022 when the simultaneous elections are proposed. He has seen prime ministers from Narasimha Rao to Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh to Narendra Modi. He clearly rates Modi as number one go-getter and a man of action without an Advani or Sonia Gandhi pulling the strings from behind. For Sreedharan too, it is a gamble. He too has nothing to lose at this age. He had his successful innings as a metro man. Whatever he does or gets would be a bonus.