New Delhi: The mayors of the major cities should be allowed to use the red beacon on their cars, key NDA ally Shiv Sena has demanded even as it has lauded the Centre's plan for limiting such a privilege to only nine constitutional dignitaries.
According to media reports, the Transport Ministry is considering limiting the use of red beacons for vehicles of the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and Chief Justice of India at the central level.
At the state level, governors, chief ministers, Assembly Speakers and chief justices of high courts are being considered for being part of the new pruned list after Supreme Court in September, 2013, spoke of limiting the rampant misuse of the red beacon.
While Sena has welcomed the move, which it said will end the "struggle" amongst the political class for red beacon vehicles, which are looked upon as a "status symbol", it is, however, insisting that mayors of cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and those with "international repute" be incorporated in the list.
Following the SC order, the previous Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra had on April 4, 2014, prepared a list of 34 dignitaries who would be allowed to use red beacons on their vehicles. These included the Chief Minister, his deputy and Principal Secretary-level officers. The Mayor's post though was excluded.
Sena, which leads Asia's richest civic body -- the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), had opposed the Mayor's absence from the list saying it was taking away the traditional rights enjoyed by that office. Despite the government's decision, Sunil Prabhu, the then Mumbai Mayor and a Shiv Sena corporator, continued to use a red beacon vehicle with his successor, Ambekar, following suit.
"The Mumbai Mayor's post has a long tradition and different status. The Mayor is the first citizen of the big city. We are not saying other office-bearers of the civic bodies be given such a privilege, but the mayor should," Sanjay Raut, the saffron outfit's Rajya Sabha MP, said.
Lauding the Centre's decision, Sena said that if executed, the move will stop rampant misuse of red beacon. "I think the ministry has taken a correct stand.
Whatever struggle we see in the political class presently, it is there for red beacon which has become a status issue. There is no public interest involved at all.
What difference does it make if a minister uses red beacon vehicle or travels in a rickshaw? Importance of his post is not going to be affected," Raut said.