Madhya Pradesh home minister Bhoopendra Singh and BJP legislator Shailendra Jain rode into controversy when they were caught on camera riding a two-wheeler without wearing helmets in violation of traffic rules.
The incident comes only two weeks after the transport department issued instructions to the regional transport offices to ensure that the two-wheeler riders and their pillion mandatorily wore helmet.
The Section 129 of the Indian Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, too makes it mandatory for drivers and pillion riders to wear helmets. A violation of the rule attracts a penalty of Rs 250, the city traffic police said.
Singh, who also holds the transport portfolio, was riding pillion on the Enfield bullet driven by the Sagar MLA at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tiranga Yatra in Sagar on Tuesday.
The BJP is holding the ‘Tiranga Yatra’ to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Independence Day to inject a fresh bout of nationalism among the countrymen.
On August 16, Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore kicked up a row by riding a motorcycle sans helmets during a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ in Jaipur. In 2014, Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had also landed in a controversy when he was caught on camera entering RSS headquarters in Nagpur on his scooter without wearing a helmet in violation of traffic rules.
Criticising the home minister, state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra said: “It is a serious offence if the transport minister of the state himself is violating traffic rules, who is also home minister…(He) should be dealt with accordingly.”
However, deputy superintendent of police (traffic) Sagar, HN Botham, expressed his helplessness over the issue. “What can we do? (The) Tiranga Yatra has made a mockery of traffic rules in the whole country not only in Sagar.”
This is when the Madhya Pradesh police had slapped Rs 500 fine on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for violating the Motor Vehicles Act during a road show in Gwalior. He had wooed people by sitting atop a Tata Safari.
Jain tried to brush the issue aside. “Since a very long time, I am wearing turban and if Punjabis are given exemption (from wearing helmet) why not me? I cannot wear a helmet over a turban.”