Encroachments leading to shrinking streets and an increase in the number of vehicles in Delhi have forced candidates to tweak their campaigning strategies ahead of the municipal elections.
The candidates are using motorcycles and rickshaws in the narrow lanes of many areas, something that was not seen during the 2007 elections.
“Rickshaws have emerged as the preferred vehicle for the candidates. Almost all of them have one rickshaw for campaigning. Areas such as Old Delhi and a large part of east Delhi can’t be covered with other vehicles, and candidates contesting from there have opted for rickshaw, instead of SUVs,” said a senior Delhi government official.
After getting permission from returning officers, candidates have to seek permission for using loudspeakers from the Delhi police. Candidates are allowed to place loudspeakers only on two vehicles.
The Election Commission’s guidelines say a cycle rickshaw is defined as a vehicle which may be used for poll campaign.
“This time, we ensured that the State Election Commission counted rickshaws as a vehicle used for campaigning by the candidates. Had that not been done, a number of candidates would have been using several rickshaws for campaigning without seeking permission,” said a senior Delhi police officer. “When we get complaints about the vehicles, we impound them,” added the officer.
In east Delhi, permission for over 600 vehicles has been given by the authorities, who claimed that a large chunk of them are rickshaws and motorcycles.
“The lanes in the area are narrow and using cars or SUVs for campaigning is not a feasible option. I’ve been using rickshaws to reach out to people,” said Prabha Singh, who is contesting from new Ashok Nagar.