Nitin Gadkari Describes His First Day Without A Lal Batti

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Nitin Gadkari Describes His First Day Without A Lal Batti

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Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said the ban on lal battis on cars could start a new era of politics.

NEW DELHI: 

Highlights

  1. Glaring symbol of VIP culture - "Lal Batti" ends from May 1
  2. Nitin Gadkari says move will bring more credibility to political class
  3. Minister Gadkari was the first to take the red beacon off his car
For over 18 months, Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had pursued a proposal to prune the long list of VIPs allowed to use red beacons atop their cars. The decision on his proposal came on Wednesday; Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to put a firm end to the glaring symbol of India's VIP culture from 1 May.

Speaking exclusively to NDTV, Mr Gadkari stressed that this decision could help start a new era of politics and bring more credibility to the political class.

"This is a very important decision for the democracy because a lot of people have a lot of hatred, with the behaviour of the politician. And the red light system has become just a status symbol. So by today's decision, it can start a new era of new politics," the Union Minister said.

Mr Gadkari was the first to take the red beacon off his official car after Wednesday's cabinet meeting where other union ministers were told about the big step. How does he feel driving without a red light on his car?  Well, he answered it's a matter of "great pleasure and pride".

"I am very much happy, morally... Today my car is without a red light, I feel really great pleasure and pride," the minister told NDTV.

Mr Gadkari's said his ministry had been discussing the issue for the last 18 months but there was no unanimity. "Then we sent our options to the PMO and it is only with the help of the Cabinet and PM, we have come to conclusion," he said.

Doing away with the concept of red beacons for dignitaries was one of the three options, sources said. The second was to let a small group of dignitaries such as the Prime Minister and President use the beacons, and the third was status quo.

The minister didn't mind the BJP's political rivals, the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party, moving in to take their share of the credit for the "remarkable and historic" move. "I don't have any problem with taking credit for anything. But one thing is clear, good things starts now," the minister said, reserving his "special thanks" for political parties who cooperated with him.

The AAP government in Delhi was the first to declare in February 2015 that its ministers won't use red beacons in their official cars. This was one of the first decisions that Captain Amarinder Singh took when he became Punjab Chief Minister last month.

Under the rules to be issued by this month-end, only emergency vehicles would be allowed to have beacons of specified colours to let other road users identify them, and make way for them.

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