Autorickshaw drivers divided on extending support to AAP again

Autorickshaw drivers divided on extending support to AAP again

Ritwika Mitra, Jan 25, 2015, DHNS:

Sunder Ram and Ram are neighbours in Tughlakabad. Both move around with their autorickshaws mostly in south Delhi. For the past few weeks, the conversations over tea drift to the upcoming polls.

Stationed at the backseat of Sunder Ram’s auto on Sunday, Ram says the decision to vote for Kejriwal in “their community” is almost “unanimous”.

“The vote goes out to jhadu. It doesn’t matter to us if he wins or loses. Our stand is firm,” he says.

The reasons are many, he explains. “What I will tell you is perhaps what every autowallah here will. Police harassment was nil when the AAP came to power. Even if we proposed to settle matters by paying bribes, they would retract. Only that man (Kejriwal) can end corruption,” says Ram.

Sunder Ram, meanwhile, thinks the woes of an autorickshaw driver are beyond just being challaned by police. He has not been able to procure his public service vehicle (PSV) badge yet.

“The process is time consuming and they unnecessarily harass us. The verification takes till months. And you cannot achieve anything without paying bribes.”

Both Sunder Ram and Ram will vote for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Sahi Ram in Tughlakabad constituency on February 7.

The AAP’s Ram has been pitted against BJP’s Vikram Bidhuri and Congress’s Sachin Bidhuri. 

Shyam, who will vote from Kalkaji constituency, doesn’t believe in “slogans of anti-corruption”.

Nor does he likes to participate in the “collective decision-making” discussions of auto-rickshaw drivers.

“For me stability is the greatest factor. I cannot rely on a person who spends all his time staging protests and does not invest time in administration. People should vote rationally. What has Kejriwal done for the autowallahs,” says Shyam, the disappointment palpable in his voice. He will vote for the BJP, he adds.

Earlier, Kejriwal had struck a chord with auto-rickshaw drivers by promising them auto-stands, replacement of old autos and better plying conditions.

“With his end of tenure, our conditions went back to square one. Why did he quit despite making tall promises?” says another auto-rickshaw driver, requesting anonymity. Earlier an AAP supporter, now he will not vote for the party anymore.

But Om Prakash, a resident of Sriniwaspuri in South Delhi, says there is no reason why people should feel cheated because the AAP chief quit the government.

Not only are all eight people in his family going to extend support to the AAP, but he has been speaking to auto-rickshaw drivers in his area to mobilise support in favour of AAP.

He is not a party worker, he clarifies.“It is his vision that moves me. He can understand the problems of the common man. He not only thought of designated auto-stands, keep the police on toes but also helped rollback the CNG price hike. Tell me which other leader has done so much for our community,” says Prakash.

Procuring licences and badges smoothly are common difficulties faced, he adds. 
For 25-year-old Shaheed, the formula is simple: he will vote for anti-corruption.
Shaheed will vote for the AAP from Okhla constituency.

“Kejriwal stands for an end to corruption. My friends are also convinced about the same. Majority of the auto-drivers are with Kejriwal. The constituency candidate really doesn’t matter to us,” he adds.

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