Finding it difficult to abort the long-cherished VVIP culture of red beacons atop their vehicles, politicians in West Bengal are now looking for new ways to skirt the Centre’s ban.
According to a Times of India report citing sources in the state administration, there has been a substantial increase in the demand of police pilot cars by cabinet ministers.
Presently, several ministers don’t ask for pilot cars as their vehicles are already fitted with red beacon. However, with the ban to be applicable from May 1, the ministers now want a police escort to clear their way.
The report cited two senior ministers as saying that they would have to think otherwise if they are not allowed to use the beacon.
“Normally, I don't ask for pilot cars during my official visits to Howrah, Hooghly, South and North 24 Parganas. I seek an escort only when it's further up. If I am not allowed a beacon, I may press the panic button and ask for a pilot even when I am travelling. I am sure more ministers will make such a request,” State Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pandey was quoted as saying.
State Power Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay also does not take police pilot at present unless he is travelling far. But he is unsure of the future. “It may be difficult to attend urgent calls unless there is police escort,” he said.
Besides the option of police pilot car, few ministers have also decided to use the National Flag to get priority. “Using the flag is no crime. On the contrary, it enhances the gravity of an official vehicle,” said Sadhan Pandey.
Many have already switched over from the blue beacon with a flasher to the KMC flag displayed prominently on the bonnet. Others have installed large brass plates with their names and designations inscribed.