Protestors call off strike as Karnataka govt addresses majority of demands
Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy engaged in discussions with representatives of 32 private transport unions before the stir was called off
The Karnataka government on Monday managed to convince the Federation of Karnataka State Private Transport Association to call off their strike following a series of negotiations in Bangalore. The federation had initiated the strike due to their grievances regarding the state government's alleged failure to fulfil their demands, including a ban on bike taxis.
The federation had called for a bandh seeking a ban on bike taxis, urging the government to completely withdraw or extend the Shakti scheme, which offers free bus rides to women on state-run transport buses, to private buses, among other demands.
The strike, which brought cabs, autorickshaws, and private buses to a halt in Bengaluru, witnessed a dramatic turnaround as the transport minister agreed to address most of the protestors' concerns. However, three specific demands remained unmet: the withdrawal of the Shakti scheme, monthly grants to auto drivers, and exemption of life tax on vehicles costing between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.
The breakthrough came after Karnataka Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy engaged in discussions with representatives of 32 private transport unions, who had organised a protest march from the city's Majestic area to Freedom Park earlier in the day. While several demands were successfully addressed, the government stood firm on these three issues.
The Federation of Karnataka State Private Transport Association comprises various unions representing bus, auto, and taxi drivers. Their strike, which garnered significant attention, was also triggered by their demand for a ban on cab aggregator apps.
The strike considerably impacted daily commuters, but the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses and Namma Metro stepped up their services to mitigate the inconvenience.
Deputy chief minister D K Shivakumar expressed his concerns about the strike, stating, "It is not a good development to blackmail the government and put passengers into inconvenience. The free travel Shakti scheme benefits women." He also acknowledged the difficulties faced by auto drivers and assured that the government would address their situation.
Former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy urged the government to approach the demands empathetically, stating, "The demands are not impossible. The government should not forget that they have families, parents, and children to care for." He emphasised that the repercussions of specific guarantee schemes had already begun affecting the people, including those who had taken loans for cabs and taxis.
The ongoing negotiations between the government and the protesting transport unions indicate a willingness to find common ground, despite the remaining differences. As the strike is called off, the state government and the private transport sector must sit together to find solutions.