MPs demand for red beacon nipped in bud

New Delhi: Parliamentarians` demand for a red beacon atop their cars in the capital was nipped in the bud with Congress President Sonia Gandhi refusing to sport one on her own vehicle.

"It was a firm `no` from her…It was like an order for us," a senior minister said citing the proceedings of an internal meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

Congress MP and Chairman of Parliament`s Privileges Committee P C Chacko had raised the demand for allowing MPs to have a red beacon atop their cars in the capital. "The Congress President was very clear on the subject. She said let the states do whatever they want to, but the Government of India will not issue a notification for MPs to have a red beacon for their vehicles," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told a press conference.

Members cutting across party lines have been pressing for the right to sport a red beacon contending that even an Additional District Magistrate gets the privilege while an MP, representing lakhs of people, is deprived of it. Reports had it that the Home Ministry was ready to extend the facility to MPs except in VVIP areas in the capital.

A number of MPs, across the political spectrum, were also planning to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to press for their demand. Congress MP Abhishek Singhvi had voiced opposition to the move by fellow Parliamentarians and in a letter to the Prime Minister said that in the current climate of cynicism, it could become the "butt of ridicule and derision".