M A I N   N E W S

Truck operators seek ‘proxy voting’ right
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
Once again, majority of over 54 lakh truck drivers and their helpers across the country will not be able to cast their votes in the coming Lok Sabha and state assembly elections. The reason — neither would they get long leave from their employers, nor would they have the facility of ‘proxy voting’ currently enjoyed by the armed forces personnel only.

At present, there are over 27 lakh trucks across the country, including over 5 lakh trucks in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi region. The truck operators claim that considering that at least two persons — a driver and a helper — are working on each truck, 54 lakh persons are working in this sector, the second large employer after the agriculture sector.

In a representation made to the Election Commission, the All-India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA), a body representing over 60 per cent of truck operators across the country, has lamented that due to indifferent attitude of the Election Commission and the Central Government, majority of over 54 lakh truck drivers and conductors have been unable to cast their votes in each election.

Mr O.P. Agarwal, Chairman, AITWA claimed that unlike the organised sector, neither the truck drivers and their helpers were entitled to get leave on the election day, nor was there any special provision for them to cast votes. Most of them remain on long tours with regard to their work.

He called upon the Chief Election Commissioner to make arrangements of ‘proxy voting’ for them on the pattern of armed forces. Citing the example of the USA and some other countries, Mr Ramesh Agarwal of DRS Transports Pvt Ltd said: “The government and the Election Commission can evolve some mechanism like proxy voting or online voting for truckers. If the USA and other European countries can do this, why cannot we do it.”

He said: “Since I cannot grant 7 to 10 days leave to my staff to cast their votes in their villages in Bihar or Rajasthan, I feel guilty. The government must do something.” His trucks were running on the Delhi-Chennai route, he said.

Mr Agarwal lamented that though truck operators were playing a significant role in the growth of economy, successive governments had remained ‘silent spectators’ to the special needs of truckers.

Mr R.D. Bansal, president of the association, said: “The Election Commission itself is employing over 2 lakh trucks in the coming Lok Sabha elections for poll duty. If it does not make special provision for them in time, it will directly deprive over 4 lakh persons of their voting right.”

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