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70% credit for AAP govt due to taxi, auto drivers: Kejriwal

Panaji, Nov 17 (IANS) Taxi and auto drivers from Delhi get 70 per cent of the credit for the formation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the national capital Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday.

Making a poll pitch to Goa's taxi and auto drivers, Kejriwal also promised several sops, which includes free medical treatment, faceless dealings with bureaucracy in order to reduce corruption and formation of a corporation through which taxi and auto drivers would decide policies and regulatory mechanism. Goa is headed for assembly polls in early 2022.

"Seventy per cent of the credit for the formation of the AAP government in Delhi is due to taxi and auto drivers. I told auto and taxi drivers that I will take up your fight, you help me form a government... They stuck AAP posters on their auto and taxis for free. Autos travel across Delhi. There can be no better canvassing," Kejriwal said during an interactive meeting with taxi drivers in poll-bound Goa.

"Seven years ago, when the AAP government still was not formed in Delhi, auto and taxi drivers were being called mafia. No politician wanted to associate themselves with taxi and auto operators in Delhi. I had called a similar meeting in Delhi with taxi and auto drivers where I had asked for their support," Kejriwal said.

The Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor also urged the nearly 25,000 taxi and auto drivers in Goa to support his party and urged them to also "brainwash" their passengers into supporting the AAP in the 2022 state assembly polls in Goa.

In return, Kejriwal said that if the AAP forms a government in the coastal state, he would ensure free medical treatment for taxi and auto drivers in case of accidents, along with a faceless interaction with the Transport department and reduction in red-tape.

"There will be faceless dealing with the Transport department. You will have to visit the Road Transport Authority only for vehicle fitness. There will be no need to go to the RTO office repeatedly, that means you will not have to pay bribes," Kejriwal also said.

"We will form a corporation with one or two government officers, the rest of the members will be taxi and auto drivers. You will form the policy. You will decide whether you want to start an app-based service or hike fares," the Delhi Chief Minister said.

Kejriwal also said that the AAP will facilitate taxi drivers in Goa to challenge a High Court order -- which also mandates time-bound fixing of fare meters -- that he said was inadequate because the state government had failed to put the opinion of the taxi lobby in its application.

"The Goa government did not put forth taxi operators say in Court, that is why the order is against taxi drivers. We will challenge the High Court order in Supreme Court. We will do it next week," Kejriwal also said.