State govts put spanner in Centre’s discipline wheel

Even as Gadkari made it clear that government will not roll back the hefty fines, BJP government in his home state Maharashtra insisted that the central government must reduce the fines.

Road and Transport Ministry’s ambitious move to ensure traffic discipline by levying hefty fines for violations has gone for a toss with a number of Opposition states protesting and even some BJP-ruled ones leading from the front in flagging their reservations.

Raising eyebrows, the BJP-ruled Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, was the first to announce steep cuts in penalties mooted for traffic violations. This was 10 days after the Road and Transport Ministry, headed by Nitin Gadkari, the blue-eyed boy of the RSS, brought in the measures from September 1.

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The decision by Gujarat government kicked in speculation of an internal power tussle within the BJP, where Gadkari is known for putting forth his independent views despite the Modi-Shah high command calling the shots.

After Gujarat moved with alacrity to water down provisions for the 17 traffic offences under the new MV Act, B S Yeddyurappa-ruled Karnataka also decided for slashing penalties. So was the response of Uttarakhand, which on Wednesday reduced penalties on traffic violations “for the convenience of the public”.

Even as Gadkari made it clear that government will not roll back the hefty fines, BJP government in his home state Maharashtra insisted that the central government must reduce the fines.



As differences within the BJP backyard on the issue came to fore, states ruled by Opposition parties were in full throttle to denounce the move.

However, Gadkari has strongly defended the steep penalties saying that it was important to prevent accidents to save lives as India witnesses five lakh accidents every year, killing 1.5 lakh and crippling another three lakh. Crediting the new law for bringing road discipline, he has stated that many people have now started applying for licence at RTOs and people are now following traffic rules strictly.

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Within a few days of implementation, there has been a lot of improvement, he said.

 “One of the biggest improvements is accidents, which have come down.” Such a step of imposing heavy penalties had to be taken as people were not taking the law seriously earlier, Gadkari told journalists while replying to queries on the hiked fines.

Apparently upset over the decision of Gujarat government to drastically cut fines, Gadkari said that the matter was in the concurrent list and states were free to take their own decision. Stressing that people will ultimately understand, Gadkari said, “It was not the intention of the government to earn revenue by imposing heavy fines.”

Even if revenue is generated through penalties, it would go to the states’ kitty only and not Centre, Gadkari asserted.

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