Trust our lawmakers not to compromise on small comforts. Trust them not to bother about the message they convey to people at large with their actions either. Parliamentarians cut across party lines on Monday to express their reluctance to follow the odd-even formula under implementation on Delhi’s roads. Many argued that they should be exempt from odd-even when Parliament is in session.
Monday was the day for cars with odd numbered plates but many lawmakers used their private cars with even numbers to reach Parliament. Actor-MP Paresh Rawal was considerate enough to issue an apology to Delhiites and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He even paid the fine of Rs 2,000. It was the MPs' first experience with the second phase of odd-even, which came into force on 15 April as Monday was the first day of the Budget session after a break of more than a month.
The Delhi government had arranged six special buses to ferry lawmakers to Parliament during the duration of the odd-even. However, these were not of much use as many members decided to use their own cars. The success of the road rationing experiment requires voluntary cooperation. If leaders are supposed to lead by example, ours were certainly giving a poor account of themselves. Kejriwal won’t be happy.
Our venerable leaders may have their genuine reasons to feel uncomfortable with the AAP government’s experiment to curb air pollution in the city, but their reluctance to comply certainly sends a wrong signal to the residents of Delhi. The residents have to face several problems while commuting — taxis and autos charging extra, an extremely hot weather — but they have not complained much. This is an idea they supported wholeheartedly in January and they are prepared to give it another try. But now, thanks to the MPs, they might think,“Why do we follow odd-even when our leaders don’t? If they see no sense in the experiment, there must be something to it.”
Our leaders must give serious thought to the impact of their actions on the law-abiding public. Violating the rule and paying the fine for it does not amount to exemplary conduct. Tomorrow, a whole lot of people could make it a standard practice. There are enough people in Delhi who can afford a fine of Rs 2,000 a day for six/seven days.
The residents of Delhi are making a sacrifice for a bigger cause – they are making the city better for their elderly and the future generations. The odd-even experiment may not be the total solution — not even a good one as many experts would say — for the massive air pollution problem in the city but the residents are giving it an honest try. Their effort should not be made to look frivolous.
It’s time our lawmakers set the right example. Many of them did by using the bus provided by the Delhi government. It would be nice if others followed without hesitation.