No more red beacon cars for VIPs, not even PM Modi!

Arkadev Ghoshal
No more red beacon cars for VIPs, not even PM Modi!

The Central government has, in a big blow to VIP culture, decided to stop the use of red-beacon vehicles by government ministers and officials from May 1. This means such vehicles can henceforth be used only by emergency services like ambulances or the law and order establishment.

The ban reportedly encompasses almost all political and government employees, except five -- the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the President, the Vice-President and the Lok Sabha speaker. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not have a red beacon on his car!

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Red beacons have for long signified that a VIP is in the vehicle. Red-beacon cars have also often stopped traffic, leading people to complain of VIP culture. There have often been allegations that traffic being stopped to let such VIP cars pass gas led to ambulances being stuck on roads and patients not getting the emergency medical attention they need.

In one such instance, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had found himself in the eye of the storm after the convoy of his cars held up traffic on the outskirts of Bengaluru last year.

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There was a point of time when people used to buy red lights for a few thousand rupees and flout norms. However, all that changed when the Supreme Court had its say in 2013. Now, the privilege is limited only to emergency services, said Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday.

Subsequently, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the rule that lets state governments to use blue beacons with flashers is also being changed to ensure that these are used only with emergency services. 

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