Kolkata Uber driver Ashraf: 'Transport sector has suffered under TMC'
Elections are not just about politicians. They are about people and issues. And what really drives their vote.
Catch is, therefore, starting a 'Meet the Voter' series to capture what different impact groups in the poll-bound states are feeling. This is true insight into the upcoming assembly elections: up-close and hyper-personal.
Ashraf Hussain has been driving taxis in Kolkata since 1973. He used to drive an iconic Kolkata yellow taxi until last year, when he purchased a car with his savings and a Rs 2 lakh loan from a bank, and became part of the Uber fleet.
Ashraf's wife died of cancer a few years ago. He lives at AJC Bose Road with five of his six children. His eldest daughter is married. Three of his children are still in school; his eldest son also drives a taxi and his second daughter works with the jobs portal naukri.com.
He says he will vote for the CPI(M)-Congress alliance in the upcoming Assembly elections. "There has been no growth in Bengal in the past 5 years. There are no industries, no jobs in Kolkata and the rest of Bengal. My daughter also says that there are barely any jobs in Bengal."
Ashraf had voted for the Trinamool Congress in the previous elections. However, he is very frustrated with the government. "I have had to pay the police Rs 3,000 multiple times for a taxi permit, despite paying Rs 10,000 to the government already. For a poor man like me, Rs 3,000 is a lot of money," he says.
"My children have shown interest in leaving Kolkata for better jobs in other cities, but it is out of my affection for them that I don't allow them to leave."
When asked about Mamata Banerjee's strong Muslim vote bank, he says that even if 70% of Muslims in Bengal vote for the TMC, there are 30% who don't.
"As far as I am concerned, I don't vote based on whom my community is voting for, or what others think. I am frustrated with how the government is dealing with transport in the state, which affects me directly," he says.