*Representational Picture

More than a week after Metro  Man  E Sreedharan termed the Kejriwal government's proposal of free travel for women as an "election gimmick", none of the AAP leaders or the Kejriwal dispensation has replied to him. There is no opposition to Sreedharan's letter either.

As such the ruling AAP government stands exposed to the charge that it was out to damage the successful functioning of the Metro  for electoral gains in the national capital."The silence of the AAP government and the party means its leaders have no moral strength to speak against Sreedharan", states a Delhi based senior social activist on condition not to name him.

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In a letter(a copy of which is attached with this story) to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Sreedharan who is the former Delhi Metro Rail Corporation(DMRC) said, free travel will "worsen overcrowding" and "lead to mishaps".

 Sreedharan's letter to Sisodia, dated June 20, came after the AAP leader wrote to the former, expressing "surprise" over his opposition to the AAP government's scheme. "I am not opposing Delhi government's proposal to bear the cost of free travel for women but objecting only to the concept of free travel in a metro. If we allow free travel for women, what about more deserving categories such as students, disabled persons and senior citizens?" he said in his letter.

Sreedharan, who is also the principal adviser to DMRC wrote, "no metro" in the world has extended free travel facility to women exclusively. More, he wrote that any compensation paid to DMRC by the Delhi government, is tax-payers' money and a taxpayer has the right to question why only women are being given free travel.

"Everybody knows this is an election gimmick to win votes of women in the next Assembly election," Sreedharan alleged in the letter.

In his letter, he also pointed to the liability faced by the Delhi Metro and the implications the proposed scheme might have on it.

"My objection is to the very idea of allowing free travel to any section of the society, till such time loans taken by the DMRC(now outstanding about Rs 35,000 crore) is serviced and paid back," he wrote."I would, therefore, appeal to your government not to destroy an efficient and successful public transport system such as Delhi Metro for electoral gains," Sreedharan said.

Sisodia in his letter to the former DMRC chief had asked him to reconsider his stand and "bless" the AAP dispensation to go ahead with this progressive step. Prior to that, opposing the AAP government's proposed scheme, Sreedharan had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to agree to the proposal as it would set "alarming precedence".

More, Sreedharan's opposition to AAP government's demand for the free Metro ride for Delhi women should be viewed as a meaningful criticism against many other such politico-electoral demands such as loan waiver. If that is so, Metro Man deserves a salute.

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