VIP privileges at toll plazas unacceptable | Deccan Herald

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Legislators want exclusive lane for themselves

Representative image. Credit: DH file photoRepresentative image. Credit: DH file photo

The Karnataka government has set a bad precedent by announcing that a separate lane will be devoted to legislators and other VIPs at toll plazas across the state to ensure hassle-free movement for their vehicles. It is bad enough that elected representatives wasted the precious time of the Assembly to make a case for an exclusive lane to be earmarked for them, what is worse is that the government acceded to their demand. Responding to a calling attention notice by JD(S) MLA from Malavalli, K Annadani, which was strongly supported by some of his colleagues, Public Works Minister C C Patil assured the House that henceforth, VIPs, including legislators, could use the lane meant for ambulances at toll plazas. Passing through a toll plaza is already a smooth affair with the introduction of radio frequency identification tags on vehicles. But our legislators seem to feel that it is beneath their status to wait in the queue even for a few minutes. Elected representatives are exempt from paying toll, but they are required to produce a pass issued by the government so that this facility is not misused by others. According to the MLAs, the process of producing the card and waiting for it to be scanned by toll plaza attendants amounts to harassment and humiliation. 

While neither the government nor opposition leaders seemed mindful of the public outcry such self-privileging by elected representatives would cause, Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri put an end to the debate by urging the members to also give a thought to the problems faced by millions of other commuters. With the members not satisfied with the PWD minister’s assurance, the Speaker has promised an ‘internal meeting’ to sort out the issue, away from the public and media glare. Elected representatives in India already enjoy a great deal of privilege, but it never seems enough. New demands keep coming up, and they use their powers to give it all to themselves. 

Both Houses of the legislature are meeting after a long gap due to the pandemic. Legislators were expected to raise various pressing issues concerning the people, not lobby for their own perks and privileges. The Karnataka Assembly, which has a glorious past, has brought itself discredit by expending its time on such a frivolous discussion that served no public purpose. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who has set an example by his own simplicity, should immediately intervene and ensure that no such claims of special privilege are entertained. Self-serving VIP mentality and privileging have no place in a democracy.

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