VIP culture of beacon lights to end from May 1: Nitin Gadkari

The decision on his proposal came on Wednesday; Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to put a firm end to the glaring symbol of India's VIP culture from 1 May.

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was reportedly the first minister in the state to get the red beacon light on his auto removed.

Now, the privilege is limited only to emergency services, said Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday.

However, the red beacons will be allowed only for emergency vehicles and enforcement agencies.

The minister said a rule that empowers the centre and state governments to use blue beacons with flasher is also being changed.

The ban, which will come into effect from May 1, 2017, applies to all Union Ministers, State Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers, both High Court and Supreme Court Judges and other bureaucrats.

The Government has taken the decision with a view to strengthening "healthy democratic values" in the country.

The restrictions when the most protected leaders of the country are on the move will also continue, especially the President or the PM.

However, fire brigade, ambulance services, police vehicles and other emergency services will be allowed to use the blue beacon, Jaitley said while addressing a press briefing.

Asked if there would be exceptions for the President or the Prime Minister, Jaitley said there can't be any exceptions "when the rule itself is not there in the rule book". "From today the red beacon in my auto is being removed", he said, adding, his cabinet colleagues will follow suit.

As soon as the prohibition order to remove red beacons was announced, many ministers were clicked removing lal battis off their vehicles. The state government would have to issue a separate notification after which the use of red beacons would become illegal in the state. Captain Amarinder Singh and Yogi Adityanath, the new chief ministers of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, have already taken steps to either end or restrict VIP culture.

VVIP culture is rampant across India, with even MLAs, panchayat heads etc., moving around with beacons.

Several ministers, including Gadkari, had beacons removed from their official vehicles straight after the cabinet meeting. Now, neither in state or centre the government will be able to nominate any members to use the red beacon.

The Congress, however, termed the decision as "symbolic politics" and "ridiculous".

"Maharashtra welcomes Prime Minister Narendra Modi's. step towards ending VIP culture by stopping the use of red beacons atop VIP vehicles", Fadnavis said in a tweet.

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