The Delhi Metro did not only bring a huge relief to the commuters of the national capital region but it also elevated its image as a world class city. With a daily ridership of over 2 million, it brought down traffic congestion and pollution levels in the city. The Sheila Dikshit government in Delhi has taken credit for bringing the Delhi Metro to the national capital terming it as their ‘baby.’ A recent radio ad by the Congress party just ahead of the imminent Delhi assembly elections 2015 also lists the Delhi Metro as its gift to the citizens of NCR. But is Sheila Dikshit”s erstwhile Congress government the one to be given credit for the Delhi Metro? Let’s separate fact from fiction.
Sheila Dikshit in 2002 had said that the Bharatiya Janata Party had hijacked her dream project by appointing Madan Lal Khurana as its chairman before the formal launch of the Delhi Metro by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But the fact is that it was Madan Lal Khurana who had initiated the project of Delhi Metro during his tenure as the chief minister of Delhi, when PV Narsimha Rao was the PM and CK Jafer Sharief was the railway minister. Sharief was accused of corrupt practices back in 1995.
Not only was the first budgetary provision for the DMRC made during the chief ministership of Madan Lal Khurana, he was also the one who decided to rope in E Sreedharan as the DMRC chief, from the Konkan railways. Jafer Sherief being the railway minister opposed the move hence related files remained pending in the railway ministry and Appointments Committee of Cabinet. The reason behind Sreedharan’s appointment being delayed was because he refused to turn corrupt.
When Sreedharan was the Konkan Railways chairman, Sharief demanded funds to be collected for Karnataka Congress through him from rail project contractors but Sreedharan blatantly refused. This very reason led to Sharief opposing Sreedharan’s appointment as the DMRC chief vehemently. Sharief recommended some other names to Madan Lala Khurana but the Delhi chief minister insisted on Sreedharan. The Union government had to give in and approved Sreedharan’s appointment as DMRC chairman.
Sahib Singh Verma, former chief minister of Delhi, had also claimed appointment of “Sreedharan as managing director of DMRC on November 5, 1997,” happened “after seeing his outstanding record as the architect of Konkan railway.” He went on to state in 2002: “DMRC effectively started functioning on October 2, 1998. Where was Sheila Dikshit at that time?”
The plan of the DMRC was executed under the Congress government in Delhi led by Sheila Dikshit later who till date claim the credit of bringing the Metro rail to the people of NCR, while the fact is that Madan Lal Khurana turned the project into reality.