Withdrawing support for the Congress,the All Delhi Auto Taxi Transporters Congress Union has affiliated itself with Aam Aadmi Party and has been displaying advertisements of the party prominently on around 20,000 autorickshaws and taxis. Photos of party leader Arvind Kejriwal can be seen on all vehicles registered with the union,months ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections.
According to president of the union Kishan Verma,no one in Congress was willing to listen to their demands,which led them to align themselves with AAP. Since June 16,we have been displaying advertisements of AAP on our autorickshaws,taxis,school cabs,etc. as a display of our support to them. We cannot change the name of our union as it is registered,but we feel that for our welfare,it is best to back AAP as they have given us the respect we deserve and have provided us with lawyers who have been helping us deal with issues related to challans, Verma said.
AAP spokesperson and senior leader Manish Sisodia said the party was not paying the autorickshaws for the advertisements. This is a form of protest. Advertisements are allowed on taxis and buses but not autorickshaws. So we have been regularly in touch with several auto unions in the city and many have pledged their support to us, Sisodia said.
He said at least 9,000 auto rickshaws were displaying AAP advertisements. According to Sisodia,the party had little money to fund a major publicity campaign. All we tell autorickshaw drivers is that if they are fined for carrying our advertisements,we will fight their case in court and reimburse the fine, Sisodia said.
The unions main problem with Congress has been the introduction of quota system for issuing fresh permits. The Supreme Court had given the government the go-ahead to issue 45,000 fresh permits for autorickshaws but what is the point of including a quota in that, Verma said. Like the existing TSR policy,a percentage of the new permits are reserved for SC/ST category.
Now,to appease us before elections,they have introduced a policy which will provide insurance cover for public transport drivers. Why couldnt this have been done before, Verma said.
Last month,when the AAP began pasting posters on autorickshaws,the Delhi government banned it. The AAP moved the Delhi High Court,challenging the decision on the ground that radio taxis were permitted to display advertisements. The court had stayed the ban.