By Anand Bodh
[The Times of India / 3 March 2013]
SHIMLA: For the first time in the history of Tibetan government-in-exile, its prime minister would now move in a vehicle flashing a red beacon atop. Led by their spiritual leader Dalai Lama, the Tibetans had come to Dharamshala in 1960 and set up a temporary government in exile at McLeodganj, but now, 53 years later, Himachal government has finally accorded VIP status to their prime minister, by allowing him to use a red beacon on his vehicle.
With this decision, Tibetan prime minister Dr Lobsang Sangay will be the first prime minister of Tibetan government-in-exile to sport a red beacon on his vehicle. China may not be accepting the election of Dr Lobsang Sangay as prime minister of Tibetan government-in-exile, but for Congress government in Himachal Pradesh, Sangay is a democratically elected leader.
Dr Sangay, a legal scholar from Harvard, is the most powerful prime minister in the history of Tibetan government-in-exile as Dalai Lama has vested his political power in him. Known for his simple lifestyle, the red beacon on his vehicle now will impart a sense of power to his office as, earlier, his movement used to go unnoticed without such beacon lights, sources said.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh said that a decision was taken to allow and provide red beacon on the vehicle of the prime minister of Tibetan government-in-exile. “Their PM is a democratically elected leader and his holiness Dalai Lama is a respected and distinguished guest. Providing them security and respect is our responsibility,” he said.
The Tibetan government-in-exile may be running from McLeodganj, but the security of exiled government and Tibetan spiritual leaders remains a concern with the state government, who in turn, spends a huge amount on this count, sources said. Though Dalai Lama moves around in a vehicle without beacon, it is accompanied by an escort vehicle sporting red beacon, they added.
During a conference of governors in New Delhi on February 12 this year, Himachal Pradesh governor Urmila Singh had raised the issue of security expenses on Tibetan spiritual leader with the Centre. She had requested the Central government to bear the entire security expenditure being incurred on Dalai Lama and religious guru Karmapa as only a small amount of aid was being provided by the Central government for this purpose till now.