Three years after rejecting ‘VIP culture’ by removing red beacons from atop their vehicles, Haryana MLAs will soon be out on the roads with their vehicles supporting a different symbol of their special status — red flags. The use of these ‘red flags’ will be permitted for both their official as well as personal vehicles.
Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, however, said that these flags were not symbols of VIP culture, and were being given only to ensure “identity and due recognition of the MLA, while on road”.
All the 90 Haryana MLAs will soon get a red-flag each bearing Haryana Vidhan Sabha logo and Member of Haryana Vidhan Sabha, MLA written on it. The MLAs will get these flags before Haryana Vidhan Sabha’s upcoming monsoon session, which is likely to be held next month.
It was in April, 2017 when the Union Cabinet had decided that red beacon lights will be removed from all vehicles, including that of Prime Minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then tweeted and hailed the Cabinet’s decision saying: “Every Indian is special. Every India is a VIP. It should have gone long ago. Glad that today a strong beginning has been made. These symbols are out of touch with the spirit of new India”.
It is almost three years later, that Haryana’s Vidhan Sabha has devised this new way by which its members can get “due recognition”.
The reasons being given by the Vidhan Sabha Speaker Gian Chand Gupta for introducing the new flag system are that “in the absence of any proper identification on their vehicles, MLAs face harassment at the toll-plazas, have to wait in long queues sometimes even for 30 minutes”. Further, the Speaker has argued that some MLAs “had witnessed misbehaviour by the toll plaza-staff” and “also in certain cases police personnel had misbehaved with certain MLAs due to lack of adequate identification on their vehicles”.
Several MLAs, according to Speaker Gupta, had been demanding a “proper system so that they get adequate recognition”. In 2017 too, the Vidhan Sabha had considered fitting electronic chips on the lines of Fastags on MLAs’ vehicles.
Although the MLAs’ vehicles bear stickers issued by Vidhan Sabha that also bear a serial numbers, Gupta argued that “those stickers are not visible from a distance and get spoiled in rains. Thus, a proper identification for the MLAs is required”.
“If officers like chief secretary, additional chief secretaries and principal secretaries etc., who are lower in protocol than the MLAs can move around in their vehicles bearing flags, why can’t MLAs do the same? I believe MLAs also require proper recognition and thus we have decided to give them these flags. The vehicle will only be allowed to bear a flag if the MLA is travelling in the same vehicle,” he said.
Talking to The Indian Express, the Speaker said: “MLAs are not less than the rank of chief secretary in order of protocol. Thus, if officers can use the flags on their vehicles for their identification, even MLAs have the right to do so. It will help people easily identify the MLAs and will also ensure that a decorum is maintained. Unke maan-sammaan ki raksha honi chahiye.”
He added: “Several incidents of misbehaviour with our MLAs by the toll plaza staff have come to light. One of our MLAs faced a situation where the toll plaza even refused to recognise his identity card. Thus, we have decided that all our MLAs need to be given a proper recognition. They will be given flags for their vehicles so that they can be identified clearly. To ensure there is no duplication of these flags, we have also inserted a security chip in these flags.”
An MLA, who did not wish to be named, said, “When there was a verdict about the red beacons, we removed it but yes some sort of identification is required for us on the road. Otherwise, it becomes difficult at times. If a flag is there on the vehicle, people can also identify that their elected representative is coming and they can approach us easily.”
Another MLA, however, said, “When a decision was taken by the Union Cabinet to remove red beacons, we followed the same and removed it. But, now the same government wants to have another VIP identity, this time with the flags”.
Strongly defending the move, the Speaker, however, said that the flags cannot be looked at as symbols of VIP culture.
“Union Cabinet, three years ago, had decided two things — not to use red lights atop vehicles and that there should be nothing written on the registration number plates of the vehicles. We have not asked anybody to use red lights. This is not promoting VIP culture, but only giving recognition to the elected representatives that they deserve,” he said.
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