The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Mumbai condemned what it called an "attempt to privatise the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST)".
In a media release, the Mumbai unit of the AAP said that BEST has already "outsourced" buses to various contractors and that most of its fleet are now owned by "private agencies". The party severely condemned this practice and said that "All Mumbaikars are against this attempt [to privatise BEST]."
"Media reports that the BEST is now planning to outsource the employment of conductors and drivers. BEST has already outsourced the buses to various contractors, most of its fleets are owned by private agencies rather than BEST. This attempt to now outsource the workforce is ultimately an attempt to privatise BEST. All Mumbaikars are against this attempt. It is the responsibility and duty of every government to provide free and sustainable transport. BEST is the lifeline of Mumbaikars and it is also the pride of Mumbaikars," the AAP release stated.
The party went on to highlight that it is the "responsibility of the state government and BMC together to ensure that the BEST is funded through other taxes in order to ensure that there is sustainable, affordable transport available to all people".
Preeti Sharma Menon said, "BEST is trying to deprive the livelihood of thousands of conductors and drivers who have served Mumbai relentlessly through floods, pandemics or any kind of emergencies. This attempt to privatise the BEST through the backdoor by sneaky outsourcing methods is going to be opposed by Mumbaikars, led by the Aam Aadmi Party. It is the responsibility of every citizen to ensure that their employment has to be not harmed".
The Aam Aadmi Party today wrote to the BEST General Manager, The Mayor and The Municipal Commissioner of BMC demanding that this move be rolled back.
"Any attempts to privatise the employment of BEST drivers and conductors to contractors to outsource it would meet with huge resistance. It is unacceptable that in a democracy, institutions of governments meant to provide services are being used to make money for private contractors," the AAP statement elaborated.
The Aam Aadmi Party also warned that if this decision is not rolled back immediately, Mumbai would witness protests, not just by the Aam Aadmi Party. It said, "Every Mumbaikar would unite as one together to ensure the integrity of best and its level of services not compromised."