'Civic polls prompting the NCP to go soft on Rao' | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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'Civic polls prompting the NCP to go soft on Rao'

mumbai Updated: Oct 03, 2011 01:07 IST
HT Correspondent

Political analysts and activists believe that union leader Sharad Rao - whose union recently led a civic strike and who was accused of being behind last month's flash strike by autos - is being treated with kid gloves as the civic polls are round the corner.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader is leading auto drivers to a protest rally on Monday for a massive tariff hike.

Prakash Bal, a veteran political commentator, said the NCP is supporting Rao indirectly.

"The civic elections are due and the NCP needs his support as he controls the city's labour movement, and the working class forms a considerable chunk of the electorate," said Bal.

The NCP, however, risks losing the support of citizens who are tired of Rao's antics, said Bal.

Rival trade unions and activists condemn Rao for trying to serve his political ends through agitations.

Ramesh Joshi, a trade union leader who has previously worked with Rao, said Rao is harming the trade union movement.

"Was he encouraging workers to cheat by undertaking the strike?" asked Joshi, referring to the auto strike protesting the drive against tampered auto meters.

It is time for the state to rise above political considerations, he added.

Rao, who holds the civic administration to ransom annually, had to bow down this time due to civic chief Subodh Kumar's unrelenting stance.

James John, coordinator, AGNI (Andheri), said Rao must be put in place.

"We will support a legitimate protest, but these are just holding citizens to ransom," he said.

Rao denied that his stirs are politically driven.

"Auto drivers are suffering and I am only asking to hike rates based on the current price index," he said.

"My rivals are defaming me, they don't care for the working class."