Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union chief Sharad Rao, who led Tuesday’s strike that inconvenienced lakhs of commuters, claimed that the agitation was “for the common man’s benefit”.
Mumbaiites were inconvenienced by the strike. What was the need for it?
This strike was called for the benefit of the common man so that the government understands how the hike in fuel prices and commodities is affecting lives. We want the government to discontinue surcharge on fuel. If that is done, we would get compressed natural gas at Rs 10 per kg instead of Rs 31 [the present rate]. If that happens, we would agree to a fare cut.
What about the violence in certain parts of the city?
Taxi and rickshaw drivers were warned against plying. We don’t advocate violence. That was done by the Swabhimaan Sanghathana [led by minister Narayan Rane’s son Nitesh]. Our protest was peaceful and the drivers voluntarily participated. Other modes of transport, such as trains, buses and taxis, were available. We didn’t forcibly shut hospitals or civic operations.
Will you protest again?
We expect the Central and state governments to heed our protest. If they don’t, we will strike again. Does the government want us to behave like Naxalites? The common man should welcome this strike.