Defying Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bengal Minister Uses Lal Batti, Is Unapologetic

Arup Biswas, West Bengal's PWD minister travelled in a car with a red beacon or lal batti in Siliguri today.

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Defying Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bengal Minister Uses Lal Batti, Is Unapologetic

West Bengal minister travelled in a car with red beacon defying PM Modi's ban.


Siliguri, West Bengal: 

Highlights

  1. Starting May, ban on VIPs using lal battis on cars
  2. Ban used to curb VIP culture and arrogance associated with politicians
  3. Bengal minister: "our government has not implemented this ban"
A Bengal minister today used a lal batti or red beacon on his car, defying a ban on the VIP status symbol ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she "fully" supported Arup Biswas, the minister of Public Works Department. "Our government has not banned it yet," Mr Biswas had told news agency ANI after he was spotted in the red beacon car.

"I fully support Arup Biswas. He was on a highway and there you have to use a beacon for safety, given the heavy traffic, the big lorries," Ms Banerjee said.

The issue of red beacon was on the state list, said the Chief Minister, who never uses a red beacon car within the city limits. "We have to decide who will use a red light, who will not. We asked the Centre for clarifications but never got any reply," she said.

The Centre's ban, she said, is "uneconomical". "If we don't use red lights on highways, then we will need an escort car which will have five securitymen in it. Our expenses will rise," the Chief Minister said.

Effective from the beginning of May, the Centre said that ministers will not use the lal batti that entitles them to right of way on roads and has become synonymous with a sense of entitlement among VIPs. Several ministers did not wait for May 1 to rid themselves of the perk, opting to ditch it as soon as the PM said in mid-April that only ambulances and vehicles used for emergency assistance should have special road privileges.

The Centre said that to ensure there were no exceptions, it was ending the rule which allowed it and state governments to decide who can use red lights to cut through traffic while on official business.

Ms Banerjee, who is a frequent and vocal critic of the PM, has often emphasized herself as "an LIP" (Least Important Person).  In a recent speech, PM Modi said "New India is not about VIPs, But EPI" -- EPI being 'Every Person is Important.'


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