The nationwide “Bharat Vyapar Bandh” called by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and supported by the BJP and other Opposition parties, evoked a mixed response.
While a number of wholesale markets observed a total shutdown, the neighbourhood and small ‘kirana' (provision) stores — for whom the trade bandh had been called — kept their shutters open remaining indifferent to the call by the CAIT.
The traders' bodies, including the CAIT, claimed the bandh was complete and demanded that the government roll back the decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, claiming it would hit the ‘kirana' or ‘mom and pop' stores the most and lead to unemployment.
Rallies taken out
Shopkeepers in many cities across the country took out marches demanding a rollback of the decision.
The BJP and other Opposition parties have stalled Parliament for the last five days demanding that the November 24 decision of the Cabinet on allowing FDI in retail should be reversed.
Reports said the response to the bandh call in Opposition-ruled Gujarat and Bihar was partial while it was complete in Himachal Pradesh. In Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Assam the call evoked a partial response.
In the capital, big markets such as Karol Bagh, Sadar Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Chawri Bazar, Kashmere Gate, Tilak Nagar, Rohini, Gandhi Nagar, Krishna Nagar and Greater Kailash M-Block in Delhi remained closed.
BJP activists took part in the strike in Delhi by organising marches and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in at least 20 locations.
Kirana stores and neighbourhood shops remained open in a majority of places. In Delhi, markets such as Sarojini Nagar and INA, Lajpat Nagar disassociated themselves from the daylong strike call.
CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal claimed traders across the country participated wholeheartedly in the strike. “Around five crore traders belonging to 10,000 traders' bodies across the country are participating in the bandh. Traders took out marches in commercial markets across the country,'' he claimed.
Reports suggested that most shops and establishments in West Bengal downed shutters, including in the wholesale market in Posta area of Burrabazar, the largest in the State.
‘Good response' in Maharashtra
Mumbai Staff Reporter reports:
In Maharashtra, shops in some pockets in Mumbai and other parts of the State downed their shutters on Thursday in response to the bandh.
Roughly around 40 lakh to 50 lakh small and big shops observed the bandh, according to Mohan Gurnani, president, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra.
“Since this is the organised sector, we cannot have exact estimates. But the response to the bandh was much better than expected. In Navi Mumbai there was total bandh,” Mr. Gurnani told The Hindu on the phone.