Political parties have targeted the 2.5 lakh auto drivers operating in the national capital as their essentials vote bank for the upcoming Delhi Assembly Elections. This section, in particular, had been a game-changer in the last Delhi Assembly poll.
Notably, during 2013 and 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gained massive support from the auto-rickshaw unions. Also, during these two elections, AAP had extensively used auto-rickshaws for campaigning. However, this time it is not clear that this section supports which political party.
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?"
Rajendra Soni said that the increase in cab facilities in the national capital since 2017 has directly affected the auto-owners. To top that, the sharing facility available in the cabs came as a blow to the autorickshaw drivers.
"We thought the scenario will change but with the passage of time, it has deteriorated even further," Soni added
On the contrary, Surinder Kumar, 34, an auto driver from Laxmi Nagar appreciated the works done by the Kejriwal government. He said that waiving of vehicle fitness fees, reduction in the penalty for late fees, registration and re-registration has helped the section immensely.
Although, Kumar hoped that whichever party comes to power in Delhi will abolish Section 66(1)/192A of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) that levies heavy fines on commercial vehicles moving outside their authorised permit route/area.
Another auto driver from Shahdara, Subhas Chandra Sharma said, " 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 faced a loss 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 making efforts to convince the auto-rickshaw drivers with new promises or with promises to fulfil old commitments, it is to be seen whether AAP retained their support or not in the Delhi Assembly elections.
(With inputs from ANI)
(Image Credits: PTI)