Photo used for indicative purpose only. Source: Internet

Shimla, May 25

In the peak Covid crisis, legislators in the BJP-rule Himachal Pradesh have got some reason to smile. They can flaunt VIP status. The cabinet which met here on Monday to review the Covid situation and extend curfew, decided to allow MLAs to use flag at their vehicles. Himachal Pradesh assembly has 68-members and MLAs have been lobbying for giving permissions to use the flag.

Earlier all cabinet ministers, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the assembly have been using the flag.

Urban development minister Suresh Bhardwaj, who briefed media persons on cabinet decisions said “there was a long pending demand of the MLAs to allow use of the flag so that they can get due recognition in the Public”.

The cabinet will send its proceedings on this decision to the assembly Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar to specify the design of the flag.

But the decision about the use of flag has drawn a flak in the social media, especially about its timing and promoting a BJP culture, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has openly opposed. But now it is the BJP government –first in Haryana and now Himachal Pradesh promoting this culture .

The Supreme court, in 2017, had come down against the VIP culture and debarred use of red beacons barring police and emergency vehicles like ambulance. The Vidhan Sabha in 2019 issued stickers from the Assembly for legislators’ vehicles.

Senior Congress MLA and former minister Asha Kumari (Dalhousie) said she never felt the need of using the flag on her vehicles during travels within or outside the state. She admitted that some congress MLAs, first-timers mainly, have been keen on it. Lot of BJP MLAs have also been asking for adopting the Haryana pattern.

She says “I may or not, use the flag. Only one possibility looks genuine when one has to travel for the Vidhan Sabha session from my home .Otherwise, it’s my choice even not to use it” .

Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar when contacted said “I will be able to comment on the decision, or take a call on it once I get the cabinet proceedings .Right now; it’s too early to pass any comment”.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur however defends the decision saying “it’s not much a big deal. MLAs have been asking for it for a very long time as some states have already allowed.”

Some of the BJP leaders have already taken it to social media asking for withdrawal of the decision. Promoting VIP culture, which the Prime Minister has denounced, will harm the party politically.

“What if the people force the MLAs to remove the flag from their vehicles?, Will it not be an insult. This was a time to give a healing touch to the people, who were suffering due to Covid, lockdown and curfew. Several families have lost their family members. The MLAs have not shown their face to their people, ” a BJP leader wrote on Facebook.

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