Over the past few weeks in the run-up to Sunday’s MCD elections, major political parties tried to outdo each with stickers, flags, and placards for their campaign, but one strategy was common — roping in autorickshaws. Fitted with loudspeakers, the vehicles blared campaign songs and slogans from dawn to dusk.
While campaigning for the polls ended on Friday, The Indian Express spoke to a few auto drivers across the city to find out what the job involved.
In South Delhi’s Kalkaji, Govind Barman said he showed up for work around 8 am and drove his auto till around 9 pm, even as its speakers broadcasted the chant, “MCD mein bhi Kejriwal.”
He wasn’t sure how much he was being paid for the job. “I was doing this to help my brother, who owns the auto. The money is going to him. I decided to help as I was free,” he said. An AAP official nearby said drivers were paid around Rs 1,000- 1,500 a day, with an additional Rs 400-500 to maintain their sound systems.
When he wasn’t on the campaign trail, Barman said he drives his own auto and writes and performs songs. When asked who will win, he laughed. “I don’t even have a voter card. I don’t know anything about politics, all I know is music.”
Another driver, Muhammad Subrati, had started campaign work for the BJP Wednesday. He worked in CR Park in two-hour shifts with a loudspeaker blaring slogans praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the local MCD candidate. He earned Rs 500 per shift. He said: “For me, work is work. When there was no campaign work, I drove the auto for regular trips. I don’t have any particular preference, all parties are the same for me.”
He added, “In this area, the BJP may win. People here are saying they’ve some done work.”
The intensity of the campaign was also visible in Lado Sarai. On a billboard with an image of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal welcoming visitors to the locality, a BJP worker had fastened a small lotus flag. On the main road, the Congress symbol was visible all the way to the main road, with auto drivers also helping in the campaign. One of them, Rohan, said he had been on the job for months now. He earned Rs 1,000 a day, of which Rs 400 went to paying the auto owner.
He said, “I support Congress, but right now, it looks like it may come down to a fight between the broom and the lotus.”