Textile traders across the State began their two-day bandh on Wednesday demanding withdrawal of the four per cent Value Added Tax.

At a huge meeting of traders organised by the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Textile Traders Associations at Exhibition Grounds here, the leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu was so carried away by the response from the gathering that he wanted them not to pay VAT till it was scrapped. Traders sporting black flags and Gandhi caps with ‘Abolish VAT' written on them participated while their leaders criticised the government for levying VAT at a time when most other States have opted out of it. They praised rather lavishly Mr. Naidu's leadership qualities, administration and the way he developed Hyderabad.

Assures support

This was enough for the TDP president. Recalling how the previous TDP government streamlined the tax system and deferred introduction of VAT, he extended the party's full support till it was withdrawn. VAT was a burden on people when they were reeling under price rise and hike in petroleum prices for 23 times. He questioned the need for VAT when the government was mobilising a revenue of Rs. 77,000 crore through various taxes.

CPI State secretary K. Narayana said if the government was short of revenue, it could be easily mobilised from mining project sanctioned to the family of the Roads and Buildings Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao. He would personally lead the traders' protests if the government did not take back its decision on VAT in ten days. The CPI (M) State secretary B. V. Raghavulu wondered how traders from the State were different from other States where VAT has been removed. CPI (M) MLA, J. Ranga Reddy and TDP MLC, N. Rajalumari spoke.

Federation leaders Soma Dayanand, Malleswar Reddy, B. Narasimha Rao and Maqsood warned that they would organise a “Chalo Hyderabad” rally next if the Government fails to withdraw VAT.