By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi [India], Feb 4 (ANI): With 95,000 auto-rickshaws and 2.5 lakh auto drivers operating in the nation's capital, political parties are trying to woo this instrumental vote bank for the upcoming Assembly election in Delhi.
This section, in particular, had been a game-changer in the last Assembly poll in the state.
It is to be noted that during 2013 and 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got massive support from the auto-rickshaw unions. Also, during these two elections, AAP had extensively used auto-rickshaws for campaigning.
However, this time around it is unclear as to which political party is the favourite with this section of voters.
Rajendra Soni, general secretary, Delhi Auto Rickshaw Sangh, (linked with RSS' Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh) while speaking to ANI said, "We, the auto wallas of Delhi wish for a government that does not use us merely as a vote bank but is serious about us and is determined to resolve our issues. Who else shall we look upon if not the government?"
On the ground, the increase in cab facilities since 2017 has affected the auto-owners directly. Soni said, "Moreover the sharing facility available in the cabs has come as a blow. We thought the scenario will change but with the passage of time, it has deteriorated even further."
However, Surinder Kumar, 34, an auto driver from Laxmi Nagar had something else to say.
"Some of the work done by the Kejriwal government is appreciable. It has helped us immensely. Must mention the waiving of vehicle fitness fees. Moreover the penalty for late fees, registration and re-registration have been reduced. I am happy," Kumar said.
But Kumar also hopes that whoever comes to power in Delhi will abolish Section 66(1)/192A of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) that levies heavy fines on commercial vehicles plying outside their authorised permit route/area.
Another auto driver from Shahdara, Subhas Chandra Sharma said, "We are happy with whatever the government has done for us but it seems we are being used only as vote bank. In the ongoing election fervour, challans are causing a serious problem for us. Moreover, with an increase in the number of battery rickshaws, our income has suffered."
The business of auto-rickshaw drivers has further seen a dent after the AAP government declared free bus ride for women.
AAP's Delhi Convener Gopal Rai while speaking to ANI said, "Last time the auto-rickshaws supported AAP and this time their support has increased further. The government has resolved issues for which they were fighting. Corruption has been restricted successfully. We are in touch with them on a regular basis and will resolve issues in future too."
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said, "An auto that cost Rs 1.15 lakh is being sold for Rs 6 lakh. Once we are in power, we will make the entire system very transparent which will bring both ease of doing business and ease of living for the auto wallahs."
With political parties trying hard to convince the auto-rickshaw drivers in the national capital with new promises or with promises to fulfil old commitments, it will be seen whether AAP retained their support or not, when the results come on Feb 11. (ANI)
Auto wallahs of Delhi to play a crucial role in Assembly election
Joymala Bagchi | Updated: Feb 04, 2020 23:38 IST
By Joymala Bagchi