VIPs continue to be stumbling blocks in the paths of ordinary citizens. My daughter and I had another brush with a V/VIP at HAL Airport on Friday (28 March) morning. This time it was Rahul Gandhi. There were no noticeable signs at the entrance to the road into the airport to let the public know that it was being cleared for a "VIP" to go the wrong way on it. But, half way down the road, we were brusquely waved to the side by a belligerent policeman so that the political convoy could whizz straight out from the tarmac.
Clearly Gandhi, who as a Member of Parliament is merely a representative of the people, doesn’t question his right to special benefits even if it inconveniences fellow citizens. When he subsequently arrived late to a function in the city this is what he reportedly said: "Traffic is crazy here, even for people who are privileged with special and ‘fast-movement’ status…"
Pic: Ammu Joseph.
Unfortunately the VIP nuisance is not confined to the airport and/or arterial roads. On Tuesday (1 April) residents of S.T. Bed Layout in Koramangala had to deal with the fuss made over an ex-Minister attending a private function in the area. There was some forewarning in the form of a massive welcome banner/hoarding put up at the entrance to the layout early in the morning. Buntings followed and, of course, a shamiana soon blocked a main road leading to several houses and apartment buildings.
The final touch was a long string of firecrackers laid along the only somewhat navigable road leading into the layout. When we tried to turn from that into our road, taking the risk of driving over the crackers, an aggressive man – possibly a political hanger-on — tried (in vain) to bully us into retreat. He was so angry about our impertinence (insisting on our right to reach our own home!) that he may well have done something unpleasant to teach us a lesson if he had had the time. Fortunately he was distracted by the imminent arrival of the dignitary. The firecrackers soon went off and the resulting noise and smoke disturbed the tenuous peace of the neighbourhood, affecting both residents and passers-by. Announcements through a loudspeaker kept up the noise pollution through the afternoon.
I don’t know whether or not the organisers of the function had official permission to disrupt life in a residential area in this way and, indeed, whether the building that was presumably being inaugurated (a commercial property, judging by appearance) conforms to the relevant civic rules and regulations. I suppose such issues were not of much concern to the presiding VIP.⊕