E Sreedharan, 88, is widely celebrated for helming the construction of the Delhi Metro and the Konkan railway. For his work on the former especially, he's known as the "Metro Man" of India.
He retired in 2011, after nearly six decades helping build and renovate the country's public transport systems.
In February 2021, two months ahead of the Kerala Assembly election, the technocrat . And a few weeks ago, union minister V Muraleedharan tweeted that Sreedharan would be the BJP's in the state, though he later deleted the post clarifying that the party hadn't yet taken a call on the matter.
For the past month, as Sreedharan has campaigned and spoken to the media about the BJP's development agenda for Palakkad, where he is contesting, he has his views on contentious subjects such as beef consumption, the Supreme Court's Sabarimala judgement, and "love jihad", the Hindutva conspiracy theory that Muslim men "trap" Hindu women in love with the aim of converting them out of their religion.
Nidhi Suresh and Aditya Varier of Newslaundry went to speak with Sreedharan at his home in Palakkad. The idea was to discuss his reasons for joining the BJP, his plans for Kerala, and his and his party's positions on Hindi imposition, "love jihad", beef consumption, Sabarimala, and criminal cases against their candidates.
However, 12 minutes into the interview, when we asked him his thoughts on beef consumption, Sreedharan demanded to know why the media was asking only "negative questions”. Asked about "love jihad", he refused to comment.
Then he walked out.
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