SHILLONG, April 24 - Meghalaya Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Zenith Sangma has become one of the first politicians in Meghalaya to give up the red beacon, which many view as a symbol of class divide.
Sangma, who is the younger brother of Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, has always been a low profile politician, but many consider him as an able statesman who does his homework and the job at hand.
�I do not feel comfortable if I use these beacons everywhere and every time. Whenever I am not an official programme I don�t use the beacons and now I have totally removed these from my car,� Sangma said.
Echoing the sentiments of the people, Sangma said: �When the use of these VVIP beacons are stopped the classification of the people with their status will also stop to a great extent. You can say we are equalising everybody.�
Sangma said that the prime objective of these beacons facilitated the VVIPs to move smoothly through traffic snarls, so that they didn�t miss important deadlines.
However, over the years these beacon-fitted vehicles have been blatantly misused by those at the helm of power and has become a status symbol not just for those democratically elected, but also for the family members and close ones.
But the BJP-led NDA Government has banned use of these beacons throughout the country from May 1. The Union Cabinet decision was taken three years after the Supreme Court in December 2013 had raised the issue of red beacons and asked for restrictions on their use.
At present, red beacons are installed on vehicles of dignitaries specified by the Central and State Governments. After May 1, only emergency vehicles like Ambulance, Fire brigade and police cars would be allowed to use these beacons.