Taxi hailing drivers get political pushers

As drivers attached to app-based taxi hailing platforms Uber and Ola resumed their protests, political parties have become interested in backing their demands as they eye gaining support from this significant vote bank.

The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) on Wednesday officially announced that it was extending support to the agitating drivers. Protesting against falling earnings and lack of business due to an oversupply of cars, DPCC President Ajay Maken said that the drivers should create their own app to compete against Uber and Ola.

"The Congress Party stands firmly behind the agitating drivers and asked them to explore setting up their own management to operate a 'Made in India' and 'Operate in India' platform," a Congress Party statement quoted Ajay Maken as saying. "Why should we let the fruits of our hard work be enjoyed by foreign companies?"

In Bengaluru, HD Deve Gowda's Janata Party (Secular) has aligned itself with the protesting drivers. The agitations in the city have turned violent, with instances of two drivers attempting to commit suicide outside Ola's office in East Bengaluru last week and Uber's office being pelted with stones yesterday.

Uber and Ola have a combined base of over 100,000 cabs in Bengaluru and Delhi each, with the number of drivers attached to the platforms being significantly higher. As both companies look to rationalise their spending, drivers have complained of falling earnings as incentive payouts have fallen over the past few months.

Many drivers say they are unable to pay their monthly EMIs, as earnings from Uber and Ola have dropped from an average of Rs 60,000 six months ago to as low as Rs 20,000. So far both companies have only reached out to users on the disruption caused to their services because of the lack of drivers, but have not engaged with the driver unions.


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