Defiant Mumbai Mayor clings to her red beacon

Sep 13, 2014, 05:56 IST | Laxman Singh and Chetna Yerunkar

Despite stirring up a controversy on Wednesday, Snehal Ambekar reiterates her stand that she should be allowed to sport the red beacon on her car; finds support from former mayors

Two days after whipping up a controversy by stating that she would not give up the red beacon on her car, newly elected Mayor Snehal Ambekar from the Shiv Sena reiterated her defiant stand yesterday and found support from at least two former mayors, who said the beacon is necessary.

mayors car
Status symbol? The mayor’s car with the red beacon and (below) her Facebook post asking Mumbaikars for their opinion on the issue. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Her defiance has, however, given ammunition to the opposition, with Congress corporator and opposition leader Devendra Amberkar alleging that her decision was in contempt of the Supreme Court’s ruling asking states to severely restrict the use of red beacons, terming their misuse a menace to society. He threatened to move the SC if the mayor did not stop using the red beacon.

facebook post

After the Supreme Court verdict in December 2013, the state government had declared a list of 34 posts that were eligible to use a red beacon on their cars. The list, dated April 10, 2014, includes posts like those of the governor, chief minister, deputy chief minister, Mumbai municipal commissioner, transport commissioner and principal secretary. The state had asked the then mayor, Sunil Prabhu, to stop using the red beacon, but he had protested in a letter to the Chief Minister, and continued to use it.

Former Mayor Dr Shubha Raul has also come out in support of Ambekar’s demand. Raul said, “The mayor is the representative of the 1.5 crore people in Mumbai. As per protocol, the mayor’s post is the most important, next only to those of the CM and deputy CM. It’s not about a status symbol, but about giving the city’s first citizen a different identity.” Raul added, “We have to respect the Supreme Court’s order, but my personal opinion is that the mayor should be allowed to continue to use the red beacon.”

Former Mayor Shraddha Jadhav is also in favour of the mayor using the red beacon. “We should respect the mayor, as she is the first citizen of Mumbai. If the President or a mayor from another country visits Mumbai, our mayor goes to receive them as per protocol. The government should allow the mayor to use a red beacon car.” After being criticised for her stand, Ambekar took to the social media for validation.

She has put up a Facebook post asking for citizens’ opinion on her decision and whether she should continue to use the red beacon. She also said she was in favour of retaining the red beacon, but would take a call after listening to what the people and her party leaders had to say. Ambekar said, “My personal opinion is that the city’s mayor should use the red beacon, but I do not want to be in contempt of court. I will check with my party leaders and consider their opinion as well as those of the citizens who can respond to my Facebook post, before taking a final decision.”

Her party colleague and leader of the House, Trushna Vishwasrao said, “Our senior leaders have always said that your work should talk for you. The red beacon should be there, but my personal view is that if the citizens don’t want it, then their opinion should be valued.”

‘Will move SC’
However, Opposition leader and Congress corporator Devendra Amberkar has warned the mayor against using the red beacon. “If the mayor continues to use the red beacon, I will approach the Supreme Court, since it would clearly be in contempt of court.” “The mayor is the first citizen of Mumbai and she is holding a respected post. If she will not follow the rules, what should we expect from citizens?” he asked.

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