As thousands of autos and taxis remained off road for the second consecutive day, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday attacked Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and the BJP, accusing them of trying to “cripple” Delhi.
Delhi transport minister Satyendar Jain questioned Delhi Police’s ‘inaction’ against ‘BJP-supported goons’ who allegedly stopped autos and passenger vehicles from plying in different parts of the city.
The Delhi government claimed that the strike ended on Wednesday evening after representatives of 17 unions met the transport minister. But general secretary of the Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union, Rajender Soni, said they had not called off the strike and threatened to hold citywide protests on Thursday.
The union is affiliated to the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swyamsewak Sangh (RSS), and claims to have about half of the city’s 85,000 autos as its members. There are about two dozen auto unions in the city with political affiliations to the BJP, Congress and the AAP.
“Over 50,000 auto rickshaws are associated with us. Other small unions have around 1,000-5,000 autos associated with them. We have not ended the strike. We will hold citywide protests on Thursday,” said Soni. He said his association was affiliated to the BMS but denied having any links with BJP.
“Our issue is genuine and we are not instigated by any political party,” he said.
The indefinite strike was called by a Joint Action Committee formed by 20 auto and taxis (kaali-peeli) unions, demanding the government to take strict action against app-based services such as Ola and Uber.
There were reports of protesters trying to forcibly enforce the strike.
“BJP goons stopping autos and taxis from plying. BJP wants to cripple del. Active support frm LG n Del police (sic.)” chief minister Kejriwal tweeted.
Transport minister Satyendar Jain tweeted, “Goons stopped autos and other passenger vehicles with BJP support. Why no action by Delhi Police (sic.).”
The Soni faction of the union denied using force. Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijendar Gupta termed the allegations of the AAP government “diversionary tactics” sought to take the focus off the real problem.
In a statement, the Delhi BJP appealed to the striking auto and taxi drivers to call off their strike in the interest of local commuters.