From the time she took over the reins from the CPI(M) in Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s one-point agenda has been to wipe out the Left from the state. While there is nothing wrong in such a desire — after all the two have been arch enemies for years — what is disconcerting is that the chief minister is only chasing issues that don’t deserve her attention and in the process the real issues — and there are plenty of them in the state — are being overlooked. Red beacons are the latest on that long list of non-issues that Ms Banerjee loves to chase.
Following a Supreme Court order on August 5 to stop the rampant misuse of red beacons, sirens and multi-tone horns, the Bengal government wants to change the colour of the beacons to green, which, incidentally, is the colour of Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. While she is gung-ho about changing the colour of beacons, she has, as expected, no plans on how to stop their misuse, which was actually the crux of the court order.
This is not the first time Didi has gone against red, the CPI(M)’s home colour. While she was the railway minister between 2009 and 2011, the chief minister ordered red railway buildings to be painted in purple, green, blue and white. After 2011, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation painted public places and buildings, road dividers and flyovers, blue and white which are the chief minister’s favourite colours.
Police and motor vehicle department officials, however, told the Hindustan Times it would not be an easy task to change the colour code. According to rules, red is for VIPs and security personnel; while blue is for ambulances. Yellow and amber are internationally recognised aviation colours. If Didi continues to do what she wants, very soon there will perhaps be an international norm for green as well.
By taking up such non-issues, the chief minister is only doing what she wants so desperately to avoid: start a debate on the quality of governance that she is providing vis-à-vis what the CPI(M) did during its long rule in the state. Reacting to the red/green beacon issue, a former CPI(M) minister asked: “Have they [Trinamool] gone mad? I can’t understand what they are doing.” The CPI(M) was not a paragon of virtue when they ruled Bengal, but there are few who will disagree with such an assessment.