Most markets and shops remained closed on Thursday to back the nation-wide bandh call given by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in protest against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, price hike in diesel and corruption during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. This cost the state nearly Rs2,000 crore loss in a day. The bandh, however, was largely peaceful barring stray incidents where BJP workers forced businesses to down shutters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a key NDA constituent, went all out to ensure the bandh was complete. Saffron party workers came onto the streets to force even small retailers and petrol pumps to shut down. Even banks had to forcibly remain closed. Only pharmacy shops and hospitals were spared.
The party’s women’s wing president Smriti Irani, national BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman, state BJP chief RC Faldu, state BJP in-charge Balbir Punj, national BJP vice- president Purshottam Rupala and city mayor Asit Vora led protests in various cities.
Major markets in the city protested against the move to allow FDI in retail by refusing to do business. Madhupura Market, Kalupur Kabutar Khana, Oil Market, New Cloth Market, Maskati Kapad Mahajan, Sindhi Bazaar, Panchkuva cloth market, Ratanpol, Relief Road, Gandhi Road and CG Road were among those that joined the bandh call.
Convener of the Confederation of All India Traders (Gujarat chapter), Jayendra Tanna, called it a “historic” response. “All major wholesale markets across the state remained closed in support of the bandh. Even retail shops were shut, which can be called an achievement,” said Tanna.
Considering the bandh was across all sectors, Tanna pegged the loss to industry at Rs2,000 crore. He said local retailers of consumable goods, including roadside tea stall owners, fruit and vegetable vendors or restaurant owners, suffered maximum losses.
Traders plan to sustain their protest against FDI in retail. The Gujarat Merchants’ Chamber will continue its campaign to spread awareness about the impact of FDI in retail on small retailers in future. “No one has a clear picture of the Indian economy, and both the central and state governments favour foreign investment in various sectors. The central government should issue a white paper on the real condition of the economy,” said Prakash Kapadia, president of the merchants’ chamber.
Not only Ahmedabad, but almost all parts of Gujarat witnessed a total bandh. Trade, industry and educational institutes remained closed in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Amreli, Junagadh and the rest of Saurashtra. Only the Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry did not support the bandh.