By Ankit Dwivedi:
‘Simple living, high thinking’ is the ideology left over FOR those who choose BY those who are chosen. Recently, at least 100 members of the parliament ganged up and gave a signed memorandum to the chairman of the privileges committee demanding to be allowed to use red beacon light-fitted vehicles across the country.
The urgency for this move has come after a crackdown by the Delhi traffic police in which 277 VIP vehicles were fined for illegally sporting the red beacon.
Promoting to be a ‘common man’, these members of parliament feel that they need to flaunt their status by the use of red beacon. They have expressed that visiting the common man without the red beacon becomes a matter of shame for them. They have also urged for toll-free transit through the national highways.
With very few exceptions, politics has become a dirty game. Some people blamed Anna for doing politics, which illustrates in itself how politics is synonymously used for tricks, ill minded objectives and self-interest. There have been drastic changes in the dignity of politicians as compared to years just following independence, when leaders lived among common men, ate what half the Indians did and spent their lives for the betterment of the nation. I have to come back to the issue of red beacons as these thoughts of ideals lead us to believe that we are again in the hands of a few people, our own political mafias, not British this time.
In a few states including Uttar Pradesh, even MLA’s are allowed to flaunt red beacons. MP’s asked for a similar status all over India. They complained that they feel ashamed to go their territories without red beacon vehicle. They consider it a shame for themselves when they have to remove their beacons before entering Delhi. Of the two reasons these members gave to media, first was being trapped in traffic jams like ordinary people and second being checked and interrogated by the police.
According to current rules President, Vice president, former presidents, prime minster, former prime ministers, Chief justice of India, Speaker of the Lower house, cabinet ministers, Planning commission deputy chairperson, Laeders of the opposition, Judges of the Highcourts and supremecourts are allowed to use red beacons with flashers. While red light without flasher can be used by Chief election commissioner, the CAG, deputy speakers of both the houses, Attorney general, Cabinet secretary and chiefs of three defence services. The MP’s want their inclusion in the later list.
Should the parliament entertain any such demand?
I feel that it not only threaten security of the people, but also of the ‘easily recognisable’ MP’s. The inability to check vehicles will lead to large scale misuse of security safeguard for criminal purposes. Also in case of protests, it may lead to breakdown of public sentiments on the politicians and their properties, for they will be easy to locate.
Another such demand arrived for only first class AC for railway travels by these ministers.
A recent incident should be taken under consideration. In the first week of December, 18 members of parliament from UP and Bihar complained to the Railway Minister, Dinesh Trivedi, of harassment by Railway staff. Of the eighteen people, only six were granted seats in first class while others were booked a second class AC ticket. According to officials, 16 out of 22 berths were already booked by ordinary people. This was taken in storm by the MP’s and they dramatized the station by stopping the train for some time at the Mughalsaray junction.
Acting on complain, Head Commercial Manager of Middle East railways was transferred for he couldn’t arrange another first class coach. A passenger traffic manager was also transferred and a senior officer of Danapur area was suspended. Is this how the MPs claim to be civil?
There has been news that Congress MP from Haryana, Avtar Singh Badana, initiated the move while it was criticized by BJP and senior leaders of other parties.
I agree that Members of the Parliament should be respected with honour, but leaders should earn their privilege only from their voters and not by forcing red beacons on their vehicles.