By Pramod Kumar
The nationwide shutdown (Bharat Bandh), called by Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and many traders organisations on December 1 in protest against the Congress led Central government’s decision to allow foreign direct investment in retail sector, proved to be a big hit, as retailers spontaneously kept their business shut. Bharatiya Janata Party also supported the bandh.
Prior to the nationwide shutdown, the SJM workers on November 30 staged a demonstration at Carrefour Store at Seelampur Metro Station in Delhi on November 30. The protesters were led by senior SJM leaders including Shri Jitendra Mahajan, Shri Rajkumar Bhatia, Shri Kashmirilal, Shri Saroj Mitra, Shri Pardeep Sharma and leaders of many traders’ organisations of trans-Yamuna area.
According to reports, the major markets of Delhi including Sadar Bazar, Paharganj, Chandani Chowk, etc. remained closed. The Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations (CWBTA), the apex body of the most prominent trade associations of the State, having over five lakh small and medium level traders, said all sister trade bodies supported the bandh call. Shops were closed in major business hubs in Kolkata. Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) organised dharna in front of its office. The famous Koyambedu Vegetable Market in Chennai was closed for the day as a mark of protest. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa strongly condemned the decision on FDI, alleging it was taken under pressure from a few retail giants. “Tamil Nadu government would not allow multi-brand global players to set up their markets in the State,” she clearly stated. Trading activities were affected in places including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Balasore in Odisha during the shutdown. There are reports of complete Band Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, etc.
The BJP also extended support to the nationwide shutdown and appealed to the people to join the protest against government decision. “BJP reiterates its whole hearted support to this expression of popular unrest on this issue. The government at the Centre has shown utter disregard to the concerns expressed by small traders, farmers and consumers at large who would be facing the adverse impact of this decision,” said party president Nitin Gadkari in a statement.