The Delhi denizen is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand are Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his quixotic plans, and the incessant and sanctimonious messages that his own government subjects the people of Delhi. On the other hand, there is the Bharatiya Janata Party whose sole objective is to abuse and malign the Aam Aadmi Party and its government. So, even as the AAP government decided to torment the people of Delhi with the odd-even formula, the BJP has chosen the instrumentality of auto-taxi strike to torture them.
As I mentioned earlier (Activists can destroy Kejriwal, http://www.thehinduchronicle.com/2016/04/activists-can-destroy-kejriwal/), the Delhi Chief Minister is dangerously close to the doctrinaire activists. Instead of addressing the real issue—air pollution in the national Capital, in this context—he has become a tool in the design of activists who are pathologically against cars. The pathology of the BJP is equally hazardous: having stooped to the level of using Luddite techniques to score political points, it has decided to wage a jihad against app-based cab companies, the companies that have revolutionized public transport in India, bringing relief to millions of commuters, while providing decent incomes to a large number of drivers.
The BJP’s sister organization, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, has announced a strike by 81,000 auto-rickshaws and 12,000 black-yellow cabs registered in Delhi on Monday, the first day when the success of the second version of odd-even scheme would be tested. The excuse: the state “government’s bias towards companies like Uber and Ola” and the manner in which it has turned a “blind eye to issues confronting the livelihoods of auto and taxi drivers.”
Rajendra Soni, general secretary of Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh as wells ‘Delhi Pradesh Taxi Unions,’ was quoted in news reports as saying that the AAP government has not issued 10,000 new permits of auto-rickshaws. These permits were revoked because of the alleged irregularities in their distribution. “On one hand, government talks about strengthening public transport, but on the other hand it has not issued 10,000 new permits of autos so far. Besides, we have also been demanding to stop app-based taxis as their operation is illegal. They are snatching our livelihood.”
Well, when auto-rickshaws and black-yellow cabs started operations in the national Capital decades ago, they also adversely affected the livelihood of thousands, if not lakhs, of drivers of horse- and ox-driven carriages. In the last quarter of a century, typewriters have practically ceased to exist. Whatever happened to the employees of typewriter-making factories, the typewriter mechanics, etc.? Would the BJP-associated unions work to stop computerization as well?
But how does the AAP government react? It doesn’t trash the allegations and demands of the BJP using reason and facts. It comes up with a conspiracy theory! It said that the ruling dispensation is conspiring to “ensure profits” for cab aggregators Ola and Uber! Not only that, the saffron brigade’s move betrays their “plan to punish auto and taxi drivers for supporting the AAP”!
Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai said, “The BJP and the RSS are trying to make the enforcement of the scheme a failure… BJP’s Vijay Goel has issued a challenge to deliberately violate its restrictions because he can afford to pay Rs 2,000… If he does so on Monday, he will be given a rose by volunteers on both the first and second instances. Let him be advised that he will be issued a fine on being caught the third time.”
More theatrics. Gandhian idiosyncrasies will further pervert the already grotesque debate on the subject. Are the people of Delhi—indeed, of the entire country—condemned to suffer such politicians? Between anarchists and Luddites?
During the 1974-75 Ashes series, the deadly duo of paces Lillee and Thompson had terrified English batsmen no end. At that time, a witty rhyme appeared: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; if Thommo don’t get ya, then Lillee must.” The same can be said to the people of Delhi, “if Kejri don’t get ya, then BJP must.”