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'People were welcoming Vande Bharat train at stations, not me'

People were welcoming Vande Bharat train at stations, not me

Union Minister V Muraleedharan (PTI)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union Minister V Muraleedharan on Tuesday rejected the Congress' allegations that the inaugural run of Kerala's second Vande Bharat Express had turned into his own political campaign, saying people were welcoming the train at the stations and not him.

The Union Minister of State for External Affairs was responding to the allegations by Congress MP K Muraleedharan, who on Monday had said the train was stopped at the stations for more than the mandated time to enable him to accept the greetings of the BJP workers and supporters who had turned up there.

The Congress MP had also said the executive coach of the train had turned into a BJP party office as many party supporters got passes, the same as those given to MPs, to board it.

Responding to these remarks, V Muraleedharan said the BJP workers and supporters had gathered at the stations to greet the train and not him as it was something they had not seen in the past.

"So the train was the celebrity. People were taking selfies with the train and not me," he said.

The MoS said no one stopped the Congress workers and supporters from coming to the station to greet the train or obtaining passes to board it.

"Those who were happy with the progress in the state came to see and greet the train. If the Congress people were not happy, then it is their mindset which has to change," V Muraleedharan said.

Regarding the issue of BJP workers having the same passes as those given to MPs, the minister said K Muraleedharan should realise that in a democracy, MPs are servants of the people and not their bosses and therefore, he should try to travel with the common folk.

V Muraleedharan said that he was not going to take the Congress MP's remarks very seriously as he makes statements according to the prevailing circumstances and changes them when the situation changes.

"K Muraleedharan makes statements according to the prevailing circumstances. When the circumstances change, he changes his stand and statements. That is his situation. So, I am not taking what he said very seriously," the Union Minister added.

Congress MP K Muraleedharan on Monday had come out with scathing criticism of the ruling BJP at the Centre for the allegedly "low-level political games" seen during the inaugural run of the second Vande Bharat Express allocated to Kerala.

K Muraleedharan, who had travelled on the train from Thalassery to Thiruvananthapuram, said that the "low-level political game began from the start and continued all the way to the end of the train's run".

"I kept quiet and did not say anything as I thought let them (BJP) at least welcome a train in Kerala as they are unable to welcome an MP or MLA from here," he had said.

The Congress leader had also said that such acts should not be repeated in future, failing which the party would organise strong protests against the same.

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