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If only he had fastened the seat-belt...

Pramod Mahajan was considered prime minister material. Sadly his life was cut short by his brother shooting him down. His brother-in-law Gopinath Munde, considered good chief minister material, recently died in a road accident.

Munde’s death soon after his taking over as a Union Cabinet Minister, is a grievious loss not only to the BJP, but also to Maharashtra. He was considered a likely candidate to become the chief minister of Maharashtra after the state elections in October. As deputy chief minister in earlier governments, Munde had built for himself a far better image than many other politicians from the Congress and the opposition.

Munde cut his teeth in politics as a student leader of the Akhil Bhatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, affiliated to RSS. This helped him grow in stature at the Bharatiya Janata Party. He maintained cordial relations with leaders across different political affiliations.

Munde was a friend of ex-chief minister, late Vilasrao Deshmukh and was close to Promod Mahajan. The fact that he belonged to a backward caste was an added advantage.

His tragic death draws attention to the lack of driving discipline and the chaos on roads resulting in such tragic losses. Strict enforcement of lane discipline in the US and other developed countries is conspicuously absent in our country, especially in New Delhi. Things have started improving in this respect in Mumbai thanks to political support and strict action by the police.

The quality of driving schools in many states is abysmal, with no quality control, effective testing, or training equipment like simulators. The issue of driving licences at the RTO offices is riddled with corruption. It is welcome that the new Union Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, has announced that the Motor Vehicles Act would be amended suitably.

Adherence to rules is equally the responsibility of the drivers and the people who travel by car. Munde did not wear the seat belt; had he done so, it could have saved his life.  – S Jambunathan IAS (Retd.)

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