Rift over social security to auto drivers deepens

Serious differences have cropped over the issue of granting social security to auto rickshaw drivers. The rift between Rickshaw Panchayat President Dr Baba Adhav and Sharad Rao-led auto union came to the fore during the state-level convention of Auto-Rickshaw Owners-Drivers Federation, held in the city yesterday.

The meeting took place at the Assembly hall, Azam Campus in Cantonment. Over 300 rickshaw drivers were present at the conference.  Rao’s supporters are of the opinion that Adhav’s proposal of providing social security is of no use to the state’s 15-lakh rickshaw owners and drivers. 

Divided: While speaking at a meet in the city yesterday, Sharad Rao, executive president, auto rickshaw owners-drivers federation, called for the scrapping of the proposal to provide social security to rickshaw drivers.

Speaking at the meet, Rao said, “We want to scrap Adhav’s idea, which he had proposed to the State Labour Commissioner, asking for a social security provision for rickshaw drivers and owners under the law. This law is applicable only for those below the poverty line (BPL). Drivers or owners who do not fall under the BPL category will not get benefits. I have a difference of opinion with Adhav on the proposal.”

“If the government enforces Adhav’s proposal, we shall go on a strike on July 1,” Rao said. Generating further heat, the Federation also passed an official resolution to oust Adhav’s right-hand man Nitin Pawar from the post of general secretary of the Federation, as he had kept Rao in the dark over this proposal, which was sent to the Labour Minister recently.

Training his guns at the general secretary, accusing him of deceit, Rao said, “Nitin Pawar is a big liar. Pawar, along with Congress MLC Mohan Joshi, visited the State Transport Commissioner V B More on April 12 in Mumbai. He [Pawar] told the commissioner that I was unable to come for the meeting since I was in Ahmednagar, which was a big lie.

Actually, I was in Mumbai and More told Pawar that we had a telephonic conversation a few minutes ago. This is not acceptable.” He further said, “If Adhav fails to conduct an election in the next three months, Kamble and I will automatically get the rights to do so as per the resolution passed at the meeting.

The decision of passing the resolution regarding scrapping Adhav’s social security proposal and ousting of Pawar from the Federation would be officially conveyed to Adhav by a letter,” Rao said.

“Baba Kamble will replace Pawar till the Federation election, whereas Baba Shinde and Noor Mohammad Rangraj will be the conveyors for Pune district,” Rao said at the meet.

Meanwhile, Adhav, who is recuperating at home, following an eye surgery, said, “I don’t have any idea about the Federation’s meeting, even though I am the president. I will extend my reaction only after getting thorough information.

When contacted, Pawar lambasted the conference and resolution passed against him as unconstitutional and illegal. He said, “Neither I nor Adhav were informed about the conference. Being general secretary of the Federation, the authority to call a conference lies solely with me.

So the resolutions passed at the conference is illegal. Secondly, I am not a liar, as Rao himself had conducted a parallel meeting in Mumbai on the same day when I went to meet Transport Commissioner More. The conference also did not have any representation from Vidharbha and Marathwada areas.

Many members of the Federation are against Rao and want him ousted from the organisation.” 

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