“Not a single scandal in seven years. He is fiercely in love with his country, and hard-working. He treats everyone equally,” Sreedharan, 88, told ET about Modi even as he prepared for a tough electoral battle as a BJP nominee in his home state of Kerala.
His only grievance about Modi is: “He has picked ministers under pressure from the party. Most of them are no match for him.”
The prime minister, Sreedharan said, has not been allowed to work under his second term.
“Any step he takes is met with agitation,” he said. “Changes in farm laws were very much necessary, and the agriculture minister should have handled it diplomatically better.”
The former Delhi Metro principal advisor said he is not comfortable with the Centre’s approach to railway, suburban rail and metro projects, and the fact that railways does not have a full-time minister.
Such projects should be looked at more as a “social service” than as a source of revenue, he said. “I feel the Centre has not understood the importance of the railways and metro,” he said. “They help us reduce congestion and pollution. The government should rewrite its metro policy.”
Sreedharan has been living in the coastal town of Ponnani for the last 10 years. During this period, he said, he was fed up with the “misrule, corruption and nepotism” in Kerala by both Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF that ruled during this period. He decided to enter politics to offer his “experience” as a technocrat for the benefit of his home state.
Kerala has not had a single industrial investment in the last 20 years, Sreedharan said. “If Keralites can go to the Middle East and set up industry, they can do it here, too,” he said. “But if any industry comes up, it is closed within two years. Without industries, how will you create capital, wealth and add jobs? Kerala is a literate state with no jobs.”
He gave the example of how industrialist Kochouseph Chittilappilly, who set up electrical appliance maker V-Guard, had to shift 80% of his firm’s operations to outside of Kerala because of a hostile labour climate. “My state shows a red flag where we should be waving green flags to investors,” Sreedharan said.