Traders to mobilise and vote as one: CAIT

Officials to visit 100 cities to convince traders, employees to vote according to the confederation’s whip

Updated - January 21, 2019 10:58 am IST

Published - January 20, 2019 10:27 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The trading community has decided to make its presence felt as a single consolidated vote bank for the upcoming general elections.

The Confederation of All-India Traders (CAIT) said on Sunday that from February 1, its officials would travel to nearly 100 cities to convince traders and their staff to vote according to their whip.

The aim is to directly or indirectly reach all the seven crore small businesses that employ 45 crore people, CAIT said. The body has been in the news protesting the alleged lobbying carried out by big e-commerce firms to dilute or postpone the recent changes to FDI rules governing the sector. The traders’ body had written to the Commerce Ministry voicing its demands. Further, CAIT had been protesting last year’s Walmart-Flipkart deal citing it as being detrimental to small traders’ prospects.

Last month, CAIT also made a demand for loan waivers for traders similar to those given to farmers by some States. CAIT national president B.C. Bhartia and secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said the national campaign from February 1 would be with a slogan of ‘One Nation-One Trader-Ten Votes.’ In a statement, CAIT said, “The campaign will be launched simultaneously in 100 cities on February 1 wherein special teams of local trade associations, in each city, affiliated to CAIT, will contact traders and make them aware of the importance of traders in the national economy and urge them to cast their vote on the whip of CAIT and that of the local trade association.”

‘Whisper campaign’

“The CAIT has planned to launch a ‘whisper campaign’ whereby traders will be guided to communicate to their customers and others by word-of-mouth the good or bad about any government or political party as per the decision to be taken by the local trade association affiliated to CAIT.” According to CAIT, each small business can influence about 50 voters, including the family that runs the business and their customers.

“Traders have the advantage of influencing close relatives and customers as well. An average shop in a city has about 20 customers in a day and as per an estimate, everyday nearly 30% are repeat customers whereas 70% are new customers.”

“There are about seven crore small businesses providing livelihood and employment to about 45 crore people generating annual business of about ₹42 lakh crore,” the statement added. “There are more than 40,000 trade federations and associations across the country working for the trading community.”

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