Officials from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and politicians belonging to the parties other than the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) claimed that union leader Sharad Rao, who was leading the civic strike, instigated auto-rickshaw drivers to show their strength.
Rao had threatened to rope in members of his auto-rickshaw and the BEST unions, if problems of civic workers were not addressed.
Rao, a senior NCP leader, lambasted these claims at a press conference and said that the civic strike called by him had no relation whatsoever with auto-rickshaws going off the road.
Auto-rickshaw drivers who went on a flash strike for a second day in a row were protesting the RTO’s drive against tampered meters. The RTO collected Rs1.3 lakh as fine from the 97 drivers who were caught with tampered meters in surprise checks conducted last weekend.
All through Tuesday, auto-rickshaw unions affiliated to political parties like Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Communist Party of India met officials from RTO and the transport department stating that they had no role in the agitation and would help solve the problem. Interestingly, Rao’s union did not approach the RTO with any such offer.
“These unions have promised us that they would ask the drivers to resume work without any fear from September 21,” said a senior RTO official, on condition of anonymity. “Rao’s men did not come to us.”
Transport officials said auto-rickshaws would ply on Wednesday. “The unions have assured that people won’t have problems getting auto-rickshaws,” said transport commissioner V More.
Meanwhile, Shashank Rao, leader of the Sharad Rao-promoted Mumbai Auto-rickshawmen’s Union said, “We will have a meeting with the drivers and ask them to get back to work. We have no idea who are the rogue elements who are damaging rickshaws and obstructing them from plying.”