Transporters are seeing a boom in demand for trucks, lorries and other commercial vehicles as the country votes to elect a new Parliament.
Strangely, they are not happy.
“Political parties take the vehicles for days and that too without notice. But they rarely pay any money. At the most, they pay for the diesel and nobody dares question them, too,” said Charan Singh Lohara of the All India Motor Transport Congress.
On the campaign trail: A Bharatiya Janata Party bike rally in support of candidate Bijoya Chakraborty in Guwahati on 21 April. PTI
According to Lohara, it is not possible to arrive at an estimate on how much transporters earned across India by taking people to election rallies.
“There are over 50 lakh trucks, lorries and other such vehicles plying in the country. As many as 700 vehicles per state, on an average, are diverted for election purposes,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were the two states where life was most difficult for transporters, he added. “Sometimes passengers are forced to leave the bus by goons who then divert the vehicles for their own use,” he said.
The elections also promise better business for the automobile sector, especially multi-utility vehicles (MUVs). The MUV is the vehicle of choice for politicians during tough rallies through rural areas.
“Normally in the upcountry areas, the multi-utility vehicles are in demand for election campaigns. But this year such movement (in sales) is yet to happen and sales may have picked up only marginally,” said P. Balendran, director and vice-president at General Motors India.
There has not been significant demand for trains, too, in this election. Political parties earlier used to book special trains to ferry supporters to public rallies.
“We charge around Rs7 lakh per train for a return trip. But this year, we have not received too many requests from parties,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity.
The revenue from election-related trips would be not more than Rs5 crore, the official said. The figure is insignificant for the railways which earned Rs19,000 crore in passenger train revenue last year.
Compiled by Mint reporters