Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari does not relent easily. Undaunted by the opposition from BJP-ruled states to the hefty road penalties, he asserted on Wednesday that he was not afraid of street protests.
"My responsibility is to save the lives of 1.20 lakh people who die on road in accidents," he explained. He further reasoned that it was the responsibility of all to save people's lives.
"It is the responsibility of the state as well," he underscored. However, he refused to be drawn into commenting on whether vote bank politics was behind the protests.
(Youth Congress workers staged a dramatic protest outside Gadkari's official residence in New Delhi against the new traffic fines on Wednesday.) Constrained to comment on recalcitrant BJP-ruled states, he said:
"I can’t force state governments to enforce hefty traffic fines...It is for them to realise that it is for the welfare of people." Gadkari added, "Transport is in concurrent list. If Gujarat is reducing challans, they can conduct the experiment. We can't force the states."