As Arjun Ram Meghwal, 61, manoeuvred his way through rush hour Delhi traffic to reach Parliament on Tuesday morning, he drew surprised glances from office goers and onlookers.
Wearing a multicoloured Rajasthani pagdi (turban) andkurta–pyjama with a lemon-coloured sleeveless jacket, Meghwal rode a red cycle that carried a saffron-green board announcing that the rider is the Lok Sabha MP from Bikaner, Rajasthan. The MP acknowledged those greeting him.
By ditching luxury cars and SUVs, the favourite of most politicians, Meghwal is making a statement—that cycling to work is environmentally friendly, cool and best serves the needs of the country.
The distance between his home at Janpath in central Delhi and Parliament is not more than a kilometre but Meghwal’s efforts have drawn praise from many.
Meghwal, who is also the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief whip in Lok Sabha, wears his green credentials on his sleeve.
He is multi-talented too. He has edited many books. Moreover, he is a vocal singer and plays instruments as well and specializes in Bhajans. He holds degrees of MA(Pol. Science) LLB, MBA. And is considered one of the most honest politicians of India.Among other things, he has been following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of spending one night a month sleeping under moonlight to promote energy conservation. He does this in Bikaner.
“It was Prime Minister’s call to people to switch to cycles that inspired me. Moreover, developed countries keep saying that due to rapid development in India and China carbon emissions are increasing. This is my way of cutting down on carbon emissions even though India is not a major polluter,” said Meghwal.
Meghwal, a retired IAS officer, an MBA and holder of degrees in political science and law, said he had sought security clearance for his bicycle during his first stint as MP in 2010 but was denied it.
Meghwal said he will cycle to Parliament till 2019 when his term as MP ends. “Several of my fellow parliamentarians ask me about my experience as to how I ride in traffic but no one has taken it up as yet. It would be good if some others also join me,” he added.
But a few minutes after the MP reached Parliament, his aides arrived in an SUV with his bag and papers, making it clear that his efforts are still largely symbolic in nature rather than a representation of any real change.
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