Aam Aadmi Party leader Atishi Marlena on Friday criticised former Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan for not supporting the Delhi government’s proposal to offer free rides to women on the metro. Atishi claimed the party was surprised that Sreedharan had written a “political letter”.
In a letter to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Sreedharan had called the proposal an election gimmick, Hindustan Times reported. “I am not opposing the Delhi government’s proposal to bear the cost of free travel for women, but only objecting to the concept of free travel on the Metro,” Sreedharan’s letter said. Sreedharan said the Delhi Metro was faced with a Rs 35,000-crore debt and providing free travel would set an alarming precedent for other Metro networks in the country, which also carry “heavy debt burden”.
Sisodia had written to Sreedharan last week, saying he was “surprised and pained” by Sreedharan’s opposition to the proposal. Sreedharan had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising his objections to the plan.
Marlena said Sreedharan’s response to Sisodia seemed political, Hindustan Times reported. “We responded to his [Sreedharan’s] letter because he is the ‘Metro Man’ and is a respectable figure in the country,” she said. “We wanted to make him understand our rationale behind the scheme. It is surprising to see the Metro Man writing such a political letter.” She claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party was using Sreedharan’s shoulder to convey its message.
Marlena quoted Sreedharan saying the proposal would be a financial burden on the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. “I want to ask when last year, the Centre proposed to make metro rides free for senior citizens and students, why did not he raise any objection?” she asked, according to PTI. “If you look at the central government’s proposal, you will see that it was a model of cross-subsidy, which means all other people would bear the subsidy of students and senior citizens. Why no objection on this?”
The AAP leader alleged financial irregularities during construction of the airport Metro line for which the Delhi government gave a report. “When this metro line was being made, Sreedharan ji was in-charge of Delhi metro, and if financial irregularities were taking place, why did he not raise his voice?” she asked. “Is the BJP protecting all the administrators by not conducting a CBI inquiry into the matter? Is this the reason the BJP is able to use Sreedharan ji for putting out their voice?”