Senior BJP leader Vijay Goel on Monday violated the odd-even rationing scheme by driving an SUV with an odd last digit in its registration number and labelled the initiative to curb air pollution in Delhi "an election stunt" by the Kejriwal government.
Goel, however, described his step as a "symbolic protest" against the scheme.
Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said it was "unfortunate" that Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were sending a message to people to not follow Delhi government's efforts to curb air pollution when whole Delhi was cooperating.
Violating the odd-even rule is punishable with a fine of Rs 4,000. The fine was Rs 2,000 in earlier two editions of the initiative in 2016. According to the scheme, non-transport vehicles having odd or even last digit of registration number are allowed to run on odd and even dates, respectively.
Goel's car bore slogans that read "pradushan ki zimmedar Kejriwal sarkar, odd-even hai bekar" (Kejriwal government responsible for pollution, odd-even ineffective) and called the initiative a drama.
"I am doing this as a symbolic protest against the Kejriwal government's failure to do anything in five years to curb pollution in Delhi. It is now staging a drama and election stunt in view of the coming assembly polls through odd-even scheme," the BJP Rajya Sabha MP told reporters at his residence.
BJP vice president Shyam Jaju and other party leaders also accompanied Goel in the SUV which he drove from his residence on Ashoka Road, before being stopped near Janpath by traffic police personnel who challaned him.
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot later met Goel with a bouquet of flowers, urging him to not violate the rule as it was aimed at bringing the toxic air pollution down.
Gahlot said people of Delhi are following the scheme and BJP's protest was wrong.
The two leaders had a debate during which the transport minister said that the Delhi government has brought down air pollution by 25 percent and seeks cooperation of all to reduce it further.
"I have come here to appeal you to cooperate in implementation of odd-even scheme along with people of Delhi in the coming days," Gahlot told Goel.
Goel repeated to Gahlot that his protest was symbolic and questioned the rationale behind the car-rationing scheme.
Meanwhile, former Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken criticised Goel's action.
"Vijay Goel MP-A LawMaker! Is deliberately driving an odd number car on an even numbered day! As a LawMaker-How can he deliberately break the law? I've been most vocal critic of Kejriwal-But,I will never contribute to air pollution' as a way of protest!," Maken tweeted.
AAP leader Singh said, "Starting from MP Mr Vijay Goel to Delhi BJP chief MP Mr Manoj Tiwari they have completely opposed the efforts of the Delhi government to curb pollution. They have shared pictures of garbage burning on social media and mislead people."
"Today, when the Delhi government has come up with the odd-even scheme and the people of Delhi, has supported the initiative of Delhi government then the MP Mr Vijay Goel came out of his house driving an odd number car violating the rules of odd-even," he said.
He added, "I want to ask Bharatiya Janata Party when pollution levels are increasing in Uttar Pradesh or Haryana, doesn't it need their intervention. I also want to ask Congress that if Punjab is getting polluted then is not that the responsibility of the Congress party to come forward and take actions against pollution."
Singh lauded traffic police officials for strictly implementing the rule by issuing challans.
"The traffic police officials should not hesitate in issuing challan to anyone whether he is from AAP or from BJP," he said.
The odd-even scheme will continue from 8 am to 8 pm till November 15.
Goel also violated the second edition of odd-even rule in April 2016. The scheme was introduced in Delhi by the AAP government in January 2016 to fight high level of air pollution.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)