Unhappy over the state cabinet's nod to a proposal to allow MLAs to use amber beacon lights with flashers atop their vehicles, the legislators have urged the government to reconsider their demand for restoring red beacons.
Cutting across party lines, MLAS from the ruling- Congress party, the opposition BJP as well as independents met for an hour to discuss the issue before the state assembly's winter session commenced at Tapovan on Friday. Chief parliamentary secretaries also participated in the meeting.
The legislators rejected the move permitting them to use amber beacon lights with flashers atop their vehicles and urged the government to let them use red beacons instead.
“Amber lights are being used by funeral vans and ambulances. It's not matter of light but an issue of our dignity” said Congress MLA from Jwalamukhi Sanjay Rattan, who for long spearheaded the campaign to restore the use of red beacons by lawmakers. He also heads the Association of First Time Legislators.
“We aren't really hankering for red beacons but the government should really do something about it. Vehicles of legislators are just stopped randomly anywhere by the cops, said state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti, the MLA from Una. Likewise, the Himachal Lokhith Party's lone legislator too was of the view that the government should “follow protocol”.
“Amber lights are used by ambulances and hearses,” said HLP chief Maheshwar Singh, who represents the Kullu assembly segment. “I am not particular about the colour of the lights but at the same time protocol should be followed,” he added.
After the meeting the legislators called on chief minister Virbhadra Singh apprising him about their common views on red beacons. “The chief minister has assured us he will look into the matter,” said Rattan.
The issue of red beacons also cropped up during the meeting of the Congress legislature party chaired by Virbhadra, during which there were heated exchanges between a minister and a legislator, who accused the former of “scuttling” a move to restore red beacons.
The cabinet had allowed the use of amber beacon lights atop vehicles of MPs, chief parliamentary secretaries, all MLAS, the mayor of Shimla, all IAS and IPS officers of “super-time scale”, all district and sessions judges of the state and all deputy police commissioners and police superintendents.
It also approved the use of red beacons with flashers by the Lokayukta and the advocate general. The government had cut down on use of red beacons following the Supreme Court's directive on December 10.