Politics

Delhi Elections’ Third Wheel: Engaging Commuters to Know Electoral Inclination, How Auto-rickshaw Drivers Ride Parties to Victory

Auto rickshaw drivers are not only used for campaigning but are effectively utilized by political parties in reading and analyzing the mood of voters.

New Delhi: In the 2013 and 2015 Delhi assembly elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) used a considerable number of auto rickshaw drivers for campaigning. However, this time, no political party seems to have wooed them.

Auto rickshaw drivers are not only used for campaigning but are effectively utilized by political parties in reading and analyzing the mood of voters. They engage their passengers in conversation to understand their electoral inclinations, which help political parties in devising their poll strategy.

“We decided to start a campaign in which auto drivers will ask their passengers to vote for AAP and will tell them about the work that Delhi government has done in last five years” said Gaurav Singh, President, Aam Aadmi Auto Sanghatan, claiming that his organization has about 10,000 auto drivers supporting AAP this time.

“From last two months we are running a campaign drive under which all the auto drivers, who are working for Aam Aadmi Auto Sanghatan, are well trained to interact and explain about the work done by the AAP-led Delhi government to their passengers,” said Raju Mistri, 33, an auto driver supporting AAP, currently residing in Jangpura.

Rajender Soni, general secretary, Delhi Auto Rickshaw Sangh linked with Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, RSS-affiliated trade union, said, “We will support that party who will not only use us (auto rickshaw drivers) for canvassing but also look into our issue and try to resolve them.”

Soni claimed that there are around 80,000 auto rickshaw drivers associated with his organisation and can damage the vote share of any party that fails to resolve the issues of auto and taxi drivers.

Major expectations of auto rickshaw drivers include setting up of welfare board for drivers, so that more benefits can be transmitted to them. They also demand ESI cards along with abolition of section 66(1)/192A of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) that levies heavy fines on commercial vehicles moving outside their authorized permit area.

Haider Ali, 36, an auto driver for the last 13 years, said, “With the AAP-led policies of 200 units of free electricity, 20,000 litres of free water, good infrastructure and improved education system and good facilities in government hospitals have mostly benefited the auto rickshaw drivers.”

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