Let’s face it. India has not defined VIPs or VVIPs though we see them and their movements that often throw normal life out of gear.
In a democracy that upholds equality, restrictions imposed on the public to facilitate the smooth and safe movement of VIPs and VVIPs reminds us of the suffix of the seventh of Orwellian commandments in Animal Farm: “…more equal than others”.
The restrictions create a dystopian Manor Farm-like scenario, where the majority step aside for the comfort of a few. Bengaluru is no exception.
Any restriction on vehicular movement in any part of Bengaluru — which struggles with bumper-to-bumper traffic — has a cascading effect all over the city. Citizens update the daily traffic woes on social media, but no solution is in sight.
The campaign for the recently-concluded Assembly polls, too, contributed to the traffic woes, leaving the citizens fuming. Roadshows involving VIPs brought traffic to a standstill at several places in the IT city, where work deadlines are considered sacred.
But then, the police and security agencies cannot ignore several prominent personalities’ security.
Also read: Modi’s Bengaluru roadshow: Citizens miffed over inconvenience
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, seems to have read the pulse of the city. Soon after taking charge on Saturday, 20 May, he asked the city police commissioner to do away with the zero-traffic protocol while he is on the move.
“I have asked the Bengaluru City Police Commissioner to take back the ‘zero traffic’ protocol for my vehicular movement,” Siddaramaiah’s tweet came as a fresh breeze for motorists suffocating in the traffic.
“I have taken the decision after seeing the problems faced by the people travelling along the stretch where there are restrictions due to zero traffic,” the chief minister further said.
Netizens cheered the “excellent decision”.
Siddaramaiah did not stop with the zero-traffic norm: “I have decided not to accept flowers or shawls from people who often give it as a mark of respect,” he said in another tweet. He said this norm applies to both public and private events. He will, however, accept books as gifts.
The tweet evoked mixed responses: Some welcomed it while others viewed it as a gimmick.
Siddaramaiah’s predecessor, BJP’s Basavaraj Bommai, too, had banned flowers or shawls as gifts at public events. He preferred Kannada books.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi started this practice in 2017.