Hailing from the state of Kerala where Christians had coined the term “love jihad”, E Sreedharan, popularly known as the Metro Man for his role in setting up Delhi Metro, said today he was opposed to inter-faith marriages of the love jihad kind because he had seen in Kerala that Hindu girls were tricked into these marriages. His comments came a day after he announced that he was joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), months before the scheduled polls in the southern state.
The 88-year-old former technocrat told reporters that his aim was to help the party come to power in Kerala and that he was open to the idea of chief ministership if the party legislators chose him for the role. He said the focus would be on developing infrastructure if the BJP were to win the assembly election likely to be held in April-May this year.
Responding to a television news channel on a question about “love jihad”, a term first used by Christians fearing a demographic change engineered by Muslims of Kerala but now felt as a scourge increasingly across India, Sreedharan said, “….Love Jihad, yes, I see what is happening in Kerala, how Hindus are being tricked in a marriage and how they suffer… not only Hindus, Christian girls are being tricked into marriages too. Now that sort of a thing I certainly will oppose.”
The comment of Sreedharan came amid a fierce debate on love jihad and religious conversion, specially after Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh outlawed conversions by fraud, coercion or marriage. Both states are ruled by the BJP.
“Personally, I am a very, very strict vegetarian. I don’t even eat eggs so, certainly, I don’t like anybody eating meat. That is certain…” he said, in response to a question on beef-eating in Kerala and the BJP’s campaign against cow meat.
The 88-year-old Keralite is likely to join the party during its Vijay Yatra in Kerala from 21 February and may contest the Kerala election, due by May, although there are questions about the BJP’s cut-off point of 75 years for elections, applied previously to veterans like LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Sreedharan retired as chief of the Delhi Metro in 2011. The engineer is involved in other metro projects in the country such as in Jaipur, Lucknow and Kochi.
The Metro Man was awarded the Padma Shri in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008.