JVM’s Ranchi nominee and former SSP Amitabh Choudhary mocks safety on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
What do you do when erstwhile lawmakers and lawkeepers break the law? You keep your eyes wide shut, zip your lips and make passage. At least that is what Ranchi police are conditioned to do.
The Lok Sabha elections being less than a fortnight away, candidates of all major political parties are stepping up campaigns regardless of road rules. And helmet-less biking tops the long list of traffic violations as men in uniform busy themselves in clearing roads for such self-styled rallies.
The first among these brazen equals is JVM’s Ranchi nominee and Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) boss Amitabh Choudhary. The former SSP, who was respected for his intolerance of outlaws, was spotted along capital thoroughfares on Monday pillion-riding on a supporter’s bike without helmet. In controversial company was former deputy mayor A.N. Shahdeo and other leaders.
The JVM power bikers have been seen without helmet on more than three occasions since Friday.
Incidentally, when it comes to breaking traffic laws, our wannabe MPs believe in cutting across party lines. So, helmet-less rallies are integral to BJP, Congress, Ajsu and Trinamul Congress campaigns.
Fifty-odd Trinamul loyalists had rallied on bikes at Morabadi on Friday with just bandanas in the name of safety. Shouting slogans for party candidate Bandhu Tirkey, they had vroomed past Raj Bhavan, Ratu Road and Harmu Road as police looked the other way.
Similarly, on Saturday, some half a dozen supporters of former deputy chief minister and Ajsu boss Sudesh Mahto, also a candidate from Ranchi, were spotted zipping from Circular Road to Morabadi with party flags and posters, but without helmets.
The same day, Congress campaigners rallied near Jaipal Singh Stadium in support of sitting MP Subodh Kant Sahay. They too were saddled on power bikes and safety took the back seat.
Monday morning another two dozen BJP supporters biking in the name of NaMo near Birsa Munda Football Stadium in Morabadi. Helmet what? Party hat’s on.
The Telegraph found Choudhary’s phone switched off, while Shahdeo claimed he was too busy with rallies to talk.
Congress spokesperson Shailesh Sinha tried damage control. “We will certainly ask our workers and candidates to wear helmets during bike rallies. Also, we will ask them to stick to speed limits so that commuters don’t feel threatened,” he said.
Traffic SP Rajeev Ranjan claimed no one was above the law. But asked how many helmet-less party bikers had been fined, he drew a blank. “We will take cognisance (of the violations) once the report is published,” he quickly added.
Have you seen a candidate breaking the law?