The MLAs of Haryana want red flags on their official and personal vehicles. Three years ago, they had got red beacons removed from their vehicles, with the move carrying a strong messaging.
This had happened after the Union Cabinet decided in April 2017 that red beacon lights would be removed from all vehicles, including those used by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet decision was hailed by PM Modi. The Prime Minister had tweeted: “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP. It should have gone long ago. Glad that today a strong beginning has been made. Thank you. These symbols are out of touch with the spirit of new India.”
Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP. https://t.co/epXuRdaSmY— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 19, 2017
It should have gone long ago. Glad that today a strong beginning has been made. https://t.co/25BxLdlDpp— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 19, 2017
Thank you. These symbols are out of touch with the spirit of new India. https://t.co/xCMaSn48mc— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 19, 2017
However, it seems new India cannot let go of our cultural and social baggage. Gian Chand Gupta, Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker, has said the flags were not a symbol of VIP culture. They were being provided on MLA vehicles in order to ensure "identity and due recognition of the MLA, while on road,” he clarified.
Haryana Vidhan Sabha’s upcoming monsoon session is likely to be held in August. Before the session begins, all the 90 Haryana MLAs will be provided with red flags bearing the logo of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha and ‘Member of Haryana Vidhan Sabha, MLA’ written on it.
VIP culture has much deeper roots than we are ready to acknowledge. Speaker Gupta explained the reason for introducing the new flags for MLA vehicles. He said 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.” He further stated that some MLAs “had witnessed misbehaviour by the toll plaza staff”.
Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker Gian Chand Gupta (R) said that the MLAs have been demanding a proper system so that they get adequate recognition at all times. (Photo: PTI and Twitter)
“In some cases, police personnel had misbehaved with certain MLAs due to lack of adequate identification on their vehicles,” he went on to add.
This makes the situation peculiar. It is nobody’s case that an MLA – or for that matter any bonafide citizen – must be subjected to harassment or misbehaviour by anyone. Speaker Gupta said that the MLAs “had been demanding a proper system so that they get adequate recognition” at all times. In 2017, it had been considered that electronic chips on the lines of FASTag could be fitted on MLAs’ vehicles.
For the record, the vehicles of the MLAs bear stickers issued by the Vidhan Sabha. The stickers carry serial numbers so that they cannot be tampered with. Speaker Gupta said that stickers were not considered sufficient to ensure recognition to MLAs since these are not visible from a distance and get spoiled in rain. His argument is that proper identification for MLAs is required. He validated his argument by saying that officers of the rank of Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, etc., are lower in protocol than MLAs, but they move around in vehicles bearing flags. Hence it was decided that flags would be provided to MLA vehicles too.
The Speaker said that the vehicle shall be allowed to bear the flag only if the MLA is travelling in the same vehicle. “It will help people easily identify the MLAs and will also ensure that decorum is maintained. Unke maan-sammaan ki raksha honi chahiye,” he said. The state government has decided that in order to ensure there is no duplication of these flags, a security chip shall be inserted in them.
An MLA who supported the decision said that the elected representatives need some identification while they are travelling. He said that if the vehicle is provided with a flag, people shall be able to make out that their elected representative has come and will be able to approach them.
Speaker Gupta justified the use of red flags on MLA vehicles — since the Centre had mandated in 2017 to not use red lights atop vehicles and that nothing should be written on the registration number plates of the vehicles, Haryana is adhering to the same. “No MLAs in Haryana are using the red light on their vehicles, and nothing is written on the registration plates either,” he averred.
The beacon is gone; not the VIP culture.