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The Punjab government on Thursday termed former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s reported statement on red beacons as “mere tokenism” and asked him to take up meaningful issues instead of indulging in frivolous opposition. Dubbing Badal’s remarks as “symptomatic of the anti-people culture in the party (SAD)”, an official spokesperson said that if he was finding it difficult to connect the elimination of VIP culture with public welfare then it clearly showed the extent to which the Akalis were alienated from the people of Punjab, which had translated into the party’s poor show in the recent Assembly polls.
On Wednesday a section of media quoted Badal as saying that there would be no impact on removing red beacons from vehicles of the VIPs on commoners in Punjab. As the state’s former chief minister, Badal should constructively work with the government in the interest of the people of the state and not indulge in expressing opposition for the sake of it, the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson urged Badal to graciously accept that times had changed and there was no place for VIP culture in the modern world. The red beacon, though symbolic, had become a tool for politicians to throw their weight around and assert their authority over the common masses, the official said. “Not only do these kind of symbols alienate the people but send out the wrong message that the politicians are not ordinary men and women but hold a lofty status that requires others to bow before them,” he said.
People have died because they could not reach the hospital in time as a result of VIP movement, and students have missed out on their exams for the same reason, the spokesperson claimed. He said the state government is committed to abolishing the VIP culture of which the red beacon was one of the most visible insignias in the state.
All public servants, including politicians, need to remain always connected to the people if they are to serve them better, and the VIP culture has turned out to be a huge barrier in this regard, he added. Besides, the VIP culture had proved to be a major drain on the state’s economy, which was struggling to cope with a massive debt – the biggest legacy of the Badal government, the spokesperson pointed out.
He said the state had set a healthy example with its decision to crack down on VIP culture, which other states are already beginning to emulate. The government had already sought the support of all political leaders and others hitherto entitled to VIP frills, and hoped that Badal would also cooperate willingly and not oppose the move merely because he was now a part of the opposition.