‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, who recently joined the BJP, will be the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the Kerala Assembly elections, party leaders from the state declared on Thursday, only to do an U-turn within hours to say that no such decision had been taken.

Rival parties mocked the BJP, which currently has a single MLA in the 140-member Kerala Assembly, over the announcement and the subsequent confusion.

Speaking at a reception accorded to his Vijaya Yatra at Thiruvalla, BJP Kerala chief K Surendran today declared that the party has made Sreedharan its chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly elections to be held on 6 April. He said a person like Sreedharan becoming chief minister could be good for the state.

“The Kochi metro and the timely completion of the Palativattam flyover are typical examples of Sreedharan’s brilliance. If the metroman is given a chance, we believe he will be able to execute the development plans mooted by PM Modi,” Mr Surendran said.

Later, Union minister V Muraleedharan tweeted: “BJP4Keralam will fight Kerala polls with E Sreedharan Ji as its Chief Ministerial Candidate. We will defeat both CPIMKerala & INCKerala to provide a corruption-free, development-oriented Governance for the people.”

Soon after, however, the Union minister of state for external affairs and parliamentary affairs clarified that the party has not made any such announcement. Muraleedharan said he had learnt through media reports that the party has announced Sreedharan as the chief ministerial candidate. But when he cross-checked with state party president K Surendran, he said he has not made any such announcements, he said.

Referring to Muraleedharan’s clarification tweets, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took a dig at the BJP, saying the saffron party was “confused”.

“Hilarious! BJP4Kerala manages to be confused about who will occupy the top floor of a building that will never be built.There will be no BJP CM in Kerala,” Tharoor tweeted.

The development comes on a day the 88-year-old technocrat announced his decision to end his 24-year long career with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to enter electoral politics. Today, Sreedharan inspected the Palativattam flyover in Kochi, where he told media persons that he would soon submit his resignation as principal adviser of DMRC.

~With inputs from PTI~