| Advani during the trial run of the Delhi metro rail. (AFP)
Sept. 17: Lal Krishna Advani likes what’s underground in Calcutta, but not what’s above it.
Fifteen years after Rajiv Gandhi wrote it off as a “dying city”, the deputy Prime Minister today sprinkled some more salt, saying he liked Calcutta’s Metro, but not the city itself.
All praises for Calcutta’s tube before flagging off a trial run of Delhi’s spanking new metro rail service, Advani said: “I was impressed by the Calcutta Metro and its cleanliness, though I did not like the city as much when I visited it some years back. The situation may have improved now.”
Like Rajiv Gandhi’s 1987 comment, Advani’s words could spark outrage in the city. The deputy Prime Minister last stopped over in Calcutta in May 2001 en route to Midnapore, where he campaigned for the Trinamul-BJP combine ahead of the Bengal elections.
On his way back, he had put up at the Airport Hotel for about three hours before catching the Jet Airways flight to Delhi. He also addressed a news conference at the hotel.
Calcutta Metro officials do not recall having hosted Advani on one of their trains, but the deputy Prime Minister is likely to be familiar with the city.
His daughter Pratibha and son-in-law Jayant lived on Mayfair Road for several years. Jayant worked as an executive in a five-star hotel.
Speaking in Delhi during the trial run, Advani appreciated the co-operation between the Central and Delhi governments over the project execution.
But he added that if Delhi’s tube was to be a success and if cleanliness was to be maintained, co-operation between passengers and metro officials was essential.