BJP-ruled states reduce hefty traffic fines, and Gadkari isn't happy!
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which governs a large part of the country, has been embarrassed by its own Chief Ministers. Several CMs have decided to dilute hefty traffic fines, which were imposed from September 1. This move has obviously miffed Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari who said "they will have to bear consequences as saving lives is their responsibility too."
The first BJP-governed state to dilute traffic fines, prescribed under the amended Motor Vehicles Act, was Gujarat which has been a BJP ruled state for a long time. Announcing a steep decrease of 90% on penalties, CM Vijay Rupani said it was done on "humanitarian grounds". After this announcement on Tuesday, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, and Goa, indicated that they might take a similar route.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet in Uttarakhand, led by BJP leader Trivendra Singh Rawat, approved a reduction in penalties. Meanwhile, Karnataka's BS Yediyurappa, who became CM recently, said, "The papers have reported what Gujarat has done. I will get a copy of that order and see what can be done to prevent penalties from getting too high." And the Goa government bought itself some time.
Pramod Sawant's government in Goa has decided to first repair the potholes in roads before implementing the Act. "We will enforce the amended fines from January next year," said State Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho on Wednesday.
In fact, Maharashtra, the home state of Gadkari, has also put brakes on the Act. State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote revealed that the state government has written a letter to Centre requesting to lessen fines. "Till the time we get a reply, we will wait and not implement the new fines. Once we get the reply and it is negative, we will decide our future action," he said.
It's worth noting that states not ruled by BJP had already expressed inhibitions related to the new law. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said, "If we implement the Motor Vehicles Act amendments, it will hurt general people." Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party-ruled Delhi has decided to take a "conscious call". Kerala, governed by Left and Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will also review fines.
These changes merely days after the Act was implemented has upset Gadkari. Explaining the rationale behind steep fines, Gadkari told IE that states can reduce fines and it's not like the Centre wanted to earn revenue through this. "They (states) will also have to bear the consequences as saving lives is the responsibility of the Centre as well as States," he added.
"It's time that the country thinks about saving lives...1,50,000 people get killed on the roads in a year and 65% of them are 18-35 years old. They haven't been killed in terror strikes or riots. This was done to save lives," he told NDTV.