The Telegraph
Thursday , April 20 , 2017

Team Chouhan in beacon U-turn

A car with a red beacon outside Shastri Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday. Picture by Prem Singh

Bhopal, April 19: A month ago, Madhya Pradesh's BJP chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, had watched his ministers mock a Congress leader in the Assembly for proposing the scrapping of red beacons and dismiss his resolution as irrelevant.

Today, Chouhan showered encomiums on the Prime Minister for scrapping the use of red beacons and pledged to implement the decision in letter and spirit.

Moments after the Union cabinet announced the decision, the chief minister tweeted: "@narendramodi and Union cabinet's decision to remove #RedBeacons is historic and upholds the principal of true democracy. I & my team will implement it immediately."

Chouhan was participating in a mass-contact programme in Jabalpur when he heard about the beacon order. He immediately got the beacon atop his SUV removed before heading to the airport.

In front of Chouhan on March 24, Madhya Pradesh ministers had mocked the leader of the Opposition, Ajay Singh, when he moved a resolution during Zero Hour proposing that the use of red beacons on official cars be stopped.

Ajay Singh, the son of the late Arjun Singh, had welcomed Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh's decision to ban the use of beacons.

Madhya Pradesh minister for cooperatives Vishwas Sarang had ridiculed Ajay Singh and termed the Punjab government's move an effort to get "cheap publicity".

Many ministers had nodded in approval when Sarang had said a discussion on Ajay Singh's resolution would be "irrelevant".

Panchayati raj minister Gopal Bhargava had asked Ajay Singh why the Congress had not thought about stopping the use of red beacons when it was in power.

Ajay Singh had said that when he was a minister under Digvijaya Singh, he had not used a red beacon atop his official vehicle.

Today, Bhargava voiced full-throated support to the Centre's decision. "I do not use a red beacon in my constituency but when I am outside, I used it as district officials insisted on it citing protocol. Now that the government of Narendra Modiji has taken a decision, I will stop using the red beacon," he told The Telegraph .

General administration department minister Lal Singh Arya said he was in his constituency and using the red beacon, but he would remove it. "I am always with the decisions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan," he said.

Sarang said he welcomed the Centre's decision "wholeheartedly". Asked about his previous remarks, he said: "Let us not go back to the past."

The Madhya Pradesh BJP has a near obsession with the VIP culture. On June 5 last year, Bhopal mayor Alok Sharma had stunned everyone by placing a red beacon on his bicycle at an event to mark World Environment Day. Sharma had said: "The mayor is the first citizen of the city. The red beacon indicates mayoral position and authority."

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