BJP does an AAP, woos autowallahs

A day after taking up the cause of e-rickshaw drivers, the Delhi BJP on Friday raised its voice for autorickshaw drivers in an apparent attempt to win over a crucial vote bank in the city.

Autorickshaw drivers, often accused of fleecing commuters, played a crucial role in the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in the December 2013 Assembly elections. The BJP’s attempt to appease autorickshaw drivers by taking up their cause with Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung seems an effort aimed at weaning them away from AAP.  

 Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan, in a statement, demanded that Jung should solve all the problems of autorickshaw drivers and announce an anti-corruption helpline on which they can give complaints against bribe seekers. 

“A convenient number like 100 should be allotted for providing government assistance in the case of emergency, so if anybody demands bribe then the autorickshaw drivers may directly complain to the LG secretariat or the chief minister secretariat,” he said. 

Harsh Vardhan said an emergency meeting of the NCR Board should be called for the purpose of unhampered service of autorickshaws in Delhi and NCR, and it should be ensured that police or the administration do not harass the drivers. 

 There are 80,000 autorickshaws running in Delhi. The Supreme Court has also directed the government to issue 45,000 new permits. 

“Thousands of trained commercial drivers have deposited their licence and badge in the transport department for getting permit to purchase autorickshaw but due to the mafia, they are not getting the permits,” Harsh Vardhan said. “There is a powerful lobby in Delhi which is earning money by running the autorickshaws on rent basis,” he said.

The actual cost of an autorickshaw in Delhi is about Rs 1.40 lakh but due to the premium on it the vehicle is sold for Rs 3-3.50 lakh, he said. The price of a fare meter is Rs 7,000 but due to connivance between shopkeepers and the government, the autorickshaw drivers are forced to shell out Rs 18,000, the BJP leader said.

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