Ground report: Will Delhi’s autowallas dump their hero Arvind Kejriwal?

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Updated: May 8, 2019 8:51:04 PM

Lok Sabha Election 2019: Delhi auto drivers who once openly supported Arvind Kejriwal seem to be in two minds.

Images of Kejriwal taunting his political rivals were on display on the back of most autos in Delhi.

Delhi elections 2019: When Arvind Kejriwal was taking baby steps in politics in 2012, Delhi’s auto-rickshaw drivers formed the bulwark of his fledgling support base. Messages taunting his political rivals Sheila Dixit and BJP leaders Vijender Gupta and Kiran Bedi featured prominently on the back of most autos in the national capital. To his credit, Kejriwal launched a successful political campaign that catapulted him to the chief minister-ship of Delhi. Seven years later, the Delhi chief minister is facing discontent among this once loyal voter base.

The sense of disenchantment is hard to miss. The enthusiasm for Aam Admi Party is gone now, though some autowallas are still not ready to ditch their hero. The motley crowd of apolitical auto drivers, who were drawn to the anti-corruption crusader because they felt that he could change India’s corrupt political system, is in two minds now.

An auto-rickshaw driver in his mid-thirties in Connaught Place area of New Delhi said he will vote for BJP in this Lok Sabha election. He admitted voting for Aam Aadmi Party in 2015 assembly elections when the party won 67 of total 70 assembly seats in national capital.

READ ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: AAP can defeat BJP, Congress in Delhi; Raghav Chaddha says party’s popular base intact

“I will vote for BJP because the Prime Minister will always be from BJP or Congress,” said the auto-rickshaw driver, refusing to be named.

“Even if we give all 7 seats to Kejriwal, he can’t grant full statehood to Delhi,” he summed up his reasons for voting for BJP instead of AAP.

Another auto-rickshaw driver in the same area said that he will vote for Aam Aadmi Party regardless of election outcome.

“I have voted for Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha election but this time I will vote for Aam Aadmi Party,” said the driver who was in his mid-forties. The driver, who was a native of Delhi, also admitted that he was not a BJP supporter and had never voted for the party.

READ ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: National issues will decide election outcome in Delhi, says union minister Vijay Goel

A third auto-rickshaw driver in Delhi’s ITO area turned out to be a BJP supporter. This auto-rickshaw driver too was in his mid-thirties, he identified himself as a member of OBC community from Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh.

“We should give him five more years. Nobody can turn Delhi into London in five years,” said the driver who plans to go back to Jaunpur to cast his vote on May 12.

May be all is still not lost for Kejriwal. There may still be a large number of supporters among auto drivers who may be beneficiaries of his government’s reforms in education and healthcare, but the blind faith that helped him sweep the 2015 elections is unlikely to resurface.

READ ALSO: BJP is facing tough battle, Congress is winning all 7 seats in Delhi, says Ajay Maken

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