Mumbaikars can heave a huge sigh of relief as the Bombay High Court has issued an order to auto union leader Sharad Rao to call off his 72-hour strike by auto rickshaw drivers, which would have started today. The hearing yesterday was the result of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Shirish Deshpande.
Rao claimed, after the hearing, that the lawyer from the prosecution had assured him that his demands would be met over time, and hence he called off the strike.
However, Deshpande rubbished Rao’s claims saying, “The only thing agreed upon during the hearing by the advocate general was that before any strike is called for, there should be an open discussion on the matter involving all concerned parties. Based on this, Rao was forced to call off the strike as he lacked the support of other auto union leaders.
Deviating from the reason he called a strike in the first place, Rao said, “I did not demand that the fare be raised to Rs 25. I just said that as Delhi auto drivers receive Rs 25 for 2 km. There is a disparity in Mumbai where drivers get only Rs 15 for 1.5 kilometre.”
Refuting this claim too, Despande said, “Why did he keep quiet for so long if the media consistently kept misquoting him? He seems to have a personal agenda and is using auto rickshaw drivers to fulfil it. According to me, no hike in fares is required as the administration has done that in the recent past.”
Smaller auto rickshaw unions with political affiliations have been opposing Rao’s call for a protest over the past few days, and the issue blew up into a
political fracas with each of these unions going right up to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan with their demands.
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