AAP or BJP, Who Will Delhi’s Auto Drivers Pick Up this Election?
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Camera: Shah Umar
“Why should we not vote for Arvind Kejriwal?” asks 28-year-old auto driver Adil while listing out free education, water, electricity and bus rides as measures that he feels have benefited each and every citizen of Delhi. Adil one among a total of around one lakh auto drivers in the city.
But the going hasn’t been easy for Adil and his comrades in the capital. Among other problems, he says increased fines under the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act (2019) and subsequent trips to multiple government offices has really become a thorn in the life of auto drivers.
While most auto drivers remain unhappy over the lack of parking space and allege harassment by the traffic police, Jai Kishan Gupta, who’s been driving autos for a decade, says the grasp of Ola and Uber have robbed them of their livelihood.
Fare Hikes to Woo Auto Drivers?
Following a long-standing demand, the Delhi government had hiked auto fares by 18.75 percent in April 2019. As part of the fee-hike, the base fare was increased from Rs 25 for the first two kilometres to Rs 25 for the first 1.5 kilometre. Additionally, the fare calculated per kilometre after the base fare was increased from Rs 8 to Rs 9.5.
Ashok Kumar, who’s been driving autos for over two decades, says the AAP government has taken several beneficial steps for auto drivers. “They have waived DIMS, and fitness fees, along with increasing the validity of clearance certificates from one to two years,” he says.
However, the timing of Kejriwal’s decision is something that auto driver Rakesh is skeptical of. He says, “They have hiked fares just ahead of elections. This means it was a move to win elections. Had the government increased fares before five years, right after coming to power, we would have been convinced.”
AAP or BJP?
But who will Delhi’s auto drivers vote for? That’s the biggest question.
Seven out of ten auto drivers this reporter spoke to said they would like to see Arvind Kejriwal return as chief minister owing to the work done by his government. One of them is Rinku Nigam, who said that his daughters have benefited from work done by the Delhi government in schools.
Similarly, Ranjeet Singh said, “He (Kejriwal) has constructed schools and medical dispensaries which offer free check ups. Bus rides have also been made free (for women only). Water and electricity are free. What else does one need?”
However, there are also a few who say they will vote for the BJP on account of decisions made by it at the national level. Among them is Rakesh, who said, “Modi scrapped article 370, ensured a ram mandir. Modi ji's name is famous the world over.”