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Rediff.com  » News » How Chavan convinced Mumbai's rickshaw drivers to call off strike

How Chavan convinced Mumbai's rickshaw drivers to call off strike

October 10, 2011 18:19 IST
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has silenced his critics by successfully diffusing the indefinite auto rickshaw drivers' strike that was to begin from November 9.

Chavan has been targetted repeatedly by his colleagues in the Congress and those from its ally the Nationalist Congress Party on the issue of being 'indecisive and slow'. Complaints about Chavan were also made to the Congress high command following which there were rumours that he might be replaced. However, the chief minister's proactive approach in calling all the stakeholders concerned with the various issues pertaining to auto rickshaws has given his sagging image a much-needed boost.

In a meeting that lasted close to three hours on Sunday at the state government guest house in Sahyadri, the chief minister who also holds the transport portfolio dealt with several contentious issue including fare hikes, electronic meters and expired permits for autorickshaws.

Chavan cleverly convinced rickshaw drivers to opt for electronic meters and that too without hiking fares. He said that the modalities of a fare hike would be decided by a committee comprising commuter organisations, rickshaw unions and transport officials.

The move has effectively taken the wind out of the sails of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena -- the two parties who were trying to gain political mileage out the rickshaw drivers' strike. 

The MNS and Sena said that auto rickshaw drivers are trying to brow beat commuters in accepting a fare hike after their tampered meters were confisticated by Road Transport Office officials. The auto drivers on the other hand claim that with rising inflation they are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

With civic elections approaching, the auto drivers' issue could have led to a huge controversy and law and order problem. However, Chavan's intervention seems to have diffused the situation for now.

 

N Ganesh in Mumbai