In capital’s poll race, auto drivers say left behind: ‘Taxis, e-rickshaws are unchecked’

Jignasa Sinha
delhi assembly elections 2020, delhi auto drivers, manoj tiwari, delhi transport, delhi election issues, delhi election news

While AAP used autos extensively during its campaign in 2013 and 2015, other parties have also run anti-AAP messaging on autos. (Express)

Over the past week, several autos were challaned for allegedly carrying political ads on their vehicle. The modest three-wheeler — and the people who drive it — has been wooed by several political parties during elections.

While Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) used autos extensively during its campaign in 2013 and 2015, other parties have also run anti-AAP messaging on autos. Recently, Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari held a rally with auto drivers. There are 95,000 registered autos in the city.

For auto drivers plying in the city, however, the main issue is the growing popularity of app-based cabs in the city, which they believe AAP has failed to rein in.

Pawan Kumar (42), who has been driving an auto for the last 13 years, said: “I’m not sure whether to vote for AAP or BJP. The Congress failed to do anything for us. Will any party help us challenge the unfair app-based auto and taxi services in the city?”

The Delhi government’s transport department had prepared a draft app-based cab policy, but it was never passed. The policy aimed to control surge pricing, licensing portals as well as looking at the number of cabs plying in the city.

Other drivers, meanwhile, hailed the AAP’s decision to do away with the annual fitness fee as well as slashing the cost of buying a meter from Rs 12,000 to Rs 6,000. The annual fitness test is mandatory for every auto-rickshaw in the city.

K P Gupta (55), who bought his first auto in 1987, said: “Before AAP came to power, traffic police issued hefty fines. Now, police follow stringent rules set by the Delhi government and challans are fixed. CM Kejriwal also promised to raise the base fare and he did. Now, we can charge people Rs 9 to 10 per km.”

Others voiced their disagreement. They complained that though the government increased the base fare, it reduced the same for taxis and e-rickshaws. As a result, people prefer to take taxis and e-rickshaws as they are cheaper, they claimed. “Increasing the base fare has only reduced our customer base,” said Rajinder.

The drivers demanded a fare union, to help them procure an auto and provide training. They also sought easy loans in case of a medical emergency.