It is election season in Karnataka and the state is scheduled to go to polls within the next six months. So naturally, political parties are wooing every possible micro-constituency. One such large, vocal and active constituency is that of cab drivers who have come to Bengaluru from neighbouring districts like Mandya, Mysuru, Tumkur, Chennapatna and even from northern parts of the state looking to make a living.
Dissatisfied with the ever-changing incentive structures of online cab aggregators like Ola and Uber, these drivers have also occasionally gone on flash strikes. Continuously driving in a traffic-clogged city like Bengaluru seems to have taken a toll on their health too. Largely young and male, quite a lot of them live away from their families for months at a time and usually only congregate when it comes to issues relating to language and state pride.
The regional Janata Dal (Secular) lead by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda has been looking to tap into the grievances of this large, young and vocal crowd. While initially there were plans to launch a cab service under the moniker HDK cabs (alluding to H D Kumarswamy, the former CM of Karnataka and Deve Gowda's son), the party seems to have finally settled on partnering with a Kolkata based company called TYGR to launch a cab service called Namma TYGR (our tiger).
A Namma TYGR spokesperson claimed that the cab service which already has an app on the Google Play Store will offer better incentives to drivers. The new player also says that it already has 10,000 drivers who have signed up to offer their services on the Namma TYGR platform. Rates for now seem to be slightly on the higher side compared to their established competitors but the spokesperson says that there are no hidden charges and everything is transparent to the customer and the driver.
Since quite a lot of the drivers have come from the rural parts of the state and their roles are seen as 'aspirational', the JD(S) will be hoping that their influence will act as a force that will help in gathering votes.
The service will be launched by former Prime Minister Deve Gowda in Bengaluru on November 30. While the established platform aggregators like Ola and Uber which have raised billions in funding may not be worried about the entry of Namma TYGR for now, JD(S) which has been out of power for the last decade is surely looking at the cab service to help them get back to power.