Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has saved the state government from a major embarrassment after his cabinet colleague Kadakampally Surendran created a stir announcing on Friday that Kochi Metro would be inaugurated on May 30 with or without Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The statement triggered a huge controversy with the BJP accusing the LDF government of conspiring to keep the prime minister out of the inaugural run. Soon, Mr Pinarayi stepped in to contradict Mr Kadakampally Surendran stating categorically that the date for Kochi Metro inauguration had not been decided yet.
The chief minister said the prime minister was invited on April 11 to inaugurate Kochi Metro. “We have invited the Prime Minister. As we understand, efforts are on to find a suitable date amidst his busy schedule. The government is in constant touch with the PMO and we expect to get his date at the earliest.
Once we get the confirmation from the PMO, we will be able to decide the date for inauguration. As of now, no date has been finalised,” he said.
Earlier, at a press conference, Mr Kadakampally Surendran said that the government had decided to inaugurate the Kochi Metro on May 30. The government was waiting for confirmation from the PMO and in the event of any delay on its part, the chief minister would inaugurate the Metro, he said. The minister also issued a statement announcing the date. The BJP state leadership accused the government of deliberately keeping the PM out. State president Kummanam Rajashekharan said the government’s move was condemnable and that it smacked of political conspiracy.
The BJP leaders said that the Ministry of External Affairs had announced the prime minister’s foreign tour from May 29 to June 3. Despite being aware of it, the state government deliberately decided to have the inauguration on May 30 to avoid the prime minister, they alleged.
BJP leader K. Surendran warned that the government’s attitude will adversely affect the state’s interests.
Meanwhile, sources said Mr Kadakampally announced the date as part of a strategy to get an early date from the PMO. After inviting the PM to inaugurate Kochi Metro on April 11, the state had been eagerly waiting for a nod from the PMO. The controversy is expected to put pressure on the BJP leaders to get an early date from the PMO for the inauguration. A section of LDF leaders said that the delay in confirming the PM’s date also smacked of a conspiracy. In an unprecedented snub, the PM had refused to meet an all- party delegation led by the chief minister to discuss the cooperative sector crisis in November 2016.