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Posted at: Apr 21, 2017, 1:42 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2017, 1:42 AM (IST)

10 yrs on, Manpreet’s drive against ‘lal batti’ pays off

It all began in 2007

  • Manpreet Badal launched a crusade against the “lal batti” in 2007 after taking over as Finance Minister in the Badal government
  • Later, in the manifesto of the People’s Party of Punjab in 2012, he included the elimination of the VIP culture as top agenda
  • In January, when he authored the manifesto of the Congress, his main thrust was again the same.
10 yrs on, Manpreet’s drive against ‘lal batti’ pays off
Manpreet Singh Badal

Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20

The Modi government may have won accolades for abolishing “lal batti”, but it was Manpreet Singh Badal who had taken a stand against this symbol of VIP culture way back in 2007. He was then Finance Minister in the Parkash Singh Badal government. His colleagues would deride him for refusing an official vehicle and not having the red beacon atop his own SUV.

"He did not seek reimbursement for train or air travel and would willingly pay at the toll barriers,” said Jasbir Singh, his confidant. Manpreet parted ways with the SAD in 2010 and formed the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP).

In the 2012 Assembly elections, the PPP election manifesto vowed to end the VIP culture and ban the red beacon atop vehicles of VVIPs.

When he authored the manifesto of the Congress in January, Manpreet’s main thrust was again the same. On coming to power, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh backed Manpreet and made his ministers to shun red beacons despite opposition from some quarters.

Following in the footsteps of the Congress government in the state, now Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed all concerned to do away with the red beacon culture. The campaign has almost spread across the country.

“I am happy that the campaign that I launched against the VIP culture about a decade ago has paid off,” said Manpreet Badal, commenting on the Prime Minister’s move. Quoting Victor Hugo, he said: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

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