On Friday, cars clogged the highway leading from Delhi to Noida, where Auto Expo 2014, a biennial event that showcases automobiles, opened to the public, after a two-day blitzkrieg in the media. More than 70 new car models were launched, among others, by celebrities like Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.

To encourage more people to visit the Expo, the company that managed the toll booth at Noida flyover has waived the toll charges between 5 pm and 8 pm for the five days that the Expo will be open. Its organisers have told reporters that they expect one lakh visitors every day.

At the other end of the city, a gathering of autos of another kind took place, with almost no build-up in the media. At around noon, the roads to north Delhi were awash with green and yellow, as thousands of auto-rickshaws headed to the large ground in Burari, where chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had called a meeting with them. The meeting was publicised on the backs of the auto-rickshaws.

Delhi's auto drivers' special relationship with Kejriwal goes back to their early support to the Aam Aadmi Party, including their generous gesture of giving the party free advertising in the run-up to elections. Now a month after Kejriwal formed the government, he acknowledged their support by calling them to one of his first public meetings.

To show that they were still with the party, auto drivers came from far and near, giving up half a day's earnings, all to hear the chief minister. There were nearly ten thousand of them. Many wore the party's trademark caps. Some even brought their families.

Among them was Rajkumar, who sat with his wife Reena and their three children -- Manavi, a toddler, Rajiv, aged three, and Muskaan, the eldest, who had been made to skip school. "I want to hear Kejriwalji," said Reena, who hails from Banka district in Bihar. "Even my mother asks me about him on the phone."

As they waited in the winter sun for Kejriwal, the auto drivers, most of them migrants from north Indian villages,  reflected on their stories in the city.

Bishan Sah, a 50 year-old man, also a migrant from Bihar, has been driving an auto in Delhi since 1984. Until last year, it was a hired one. "I bought my own auto just seven months ago. I used up all my savings and in addition, I had to take a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh at 18 percent interest," he said. "Our earnings are so little that when the police stops us and does a challan (fine), it breaks our back. We want Kejriwal to stop this harassment by the police."

Suresh Mishra, another middle-aged man, claimed they were punished thrice-over for ‘refusing’ – by which he meant declining to take a passenger -- which he said was often unavoidable. "When we are going home in the evening, after 14 hours on the road, if a passenger asks us to go in another direction, we have no choice but to decline. Yet the police steps in and books us under Section 66/192 A, slapping a hefty fine, and impounding our auto for a week. The worst part is that the policemen even charge us to keep our auto safely in the police station."

Arvind Kejriwal was aware of these problems. He started his speech with a question: "Friends, have policemen’s demands for money reduced?"

"Yes," shouted the crowd. "Thoda kam hua hai (It's gone down a bit)," said Sah.

Kejriwal announced that his government had decided to reduce the scope of fines that the police could levy. "Now you can be fined only if you do not possess a licence, a permit, or a fitness certificate," he said. The auto drivers applauded. Mishra said, "Bahut badhai." Fantastic.

Delhi’s auto drivers are an integral part of the city’s vital ecosystem – the road. As Rana Dasgupta writes in his new book ‘Capital’,  “In Delhi, the road is the place from which people derive their image of the entire city. It is a segregated city, a city of hierarchies and clannish allegiances, where very few people from any sector of society enjoy the idea of social distinctions being lost – and it has no truly democratic spaces….Not even the snaking Delhi metro can bring everyone together: though it provides 2.3 million rides a day, it is neglected by both the poorest and the richest slices of society. So it is on the heaving, honking, smoking traffic arteries….that Delhi residents may have their urban revelation: the entire city, arrayed.”

In this ecosystem, the auto-rickshaws fill the space between the cars and the pedestrians, between the elites and the poor. There are more than seven million cars on Delhi’s streets. There are nearly seventy thousand autos. As service providers to the large middle class, the auto drivers often end up in conflict with it. And Arvind Kejriwal, who wishes to woo both constituencies,rounded off his speech by saying to the auto-drivers, "Place your hand on your heart and tell me don't you over charge passengers."

The auto-drivers laughed and shouted their agreement. "Yes, we do."

“Tell me you don’t decline rides?”

“Yes, we do.”

"The poor man is honest. He accepts his mistake," said Kejriwal "Now take my advice. Try being honest for a change. It brings tremendous peace…Your passenger is your God. If you cheat him, there won't be prosperity in your house."

The auto drivers nodded like school children in the presence of a much-loved headmaster.

Kejriwal also promised to revise their fares every April. “If inflation rises, your fare will be increased, but if it comes down, your fare will be reduced,” he said.

Sahi hai,” responded Mishra. That's logical.

Kejriwal also told the auto drivers that while he believes most of them were good, if some of them erred, they would be punished.

“All I can say is that I am very happy,” said Bishan Sah as the meeting got over. "This is the first time a chief minister has called auto drivers and offered them a chair.”