Congress wants us to shut shops to prove their point, allege jewellers

The jewellers, who called off their 43-day strike before Rahul Gandhi could offer support, criticise the party for instigating them to continue protesting

A day before Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was supposed to set foot in Zaveri Bazaar, jewellers had called off their 43-day-long strike, but when he did come, the protestors didn’t seem happy.

Rahul Gandhi waves to jewellers at Zaveri Bazaar yesterday. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Rahul Gandhi waves to jewellers at Zaveri Bazaar yesterday. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Jewellers condemned Congress’ effort to encourage them to continue the strike and called it the party’s move to prove their point against the government.

Jewellers gathered at Zaveri Bazaar to listen to the Congress vice-president after calling off their strike
Jewellers gathered at Zaveri Bazaar to listen to the Congress vice-president after calling off their strike

The jewellers had been protesting against the Budget proposal to impose 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery since February 29. Most national jewellery associations had called off their strike on March 19 and on Monday even regional ones did the same. Meanwhile, small shops in Zaveri Bazaar were still shut, as the whole market would open tomorrow.

Mumbai Regional Congress Committee chief Sanjay Nirupam, who was accompanying Rahul, while supporting the strike told jewellers, “The BJP is trying to break our unity. We won’t break and stand together till the end.”

However, the Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association’s President Mohit Kamboj, didn’t agree with him and said, “Congress supporting the strike shows the immaturity of the party that asks shopkeepers to shut shops even after they had called off their strike. Almost all the shop owners have opened their shops now.”

Rahul Gandhi, on his visit to the market yesterday afternoon, spoke to the jewellers for a very short duration. Moreover, his speech had more about the Land Bill than about the jewellers.

“Wherever this government finds any one weak, it exploits them to benefit the big industrialists. When they had tried to do this with farmers with the Land Bill, we had stopped them and they had to back off. Now, the same is happening with you,” Gandhi said while addressing the jewellers.

Strike may restart
Although the associations have called of their strike, Shailesh Ranka, board member of Maharashtra State Jewellery Federation and Pune Saraf Association, said they took this step since shops were shut for a long time but if after 10 days their demands are not met, they might again go on strike.

BJP claims that Congress’ election strategy is such that even for BMC elections, they get Rahul and Sonia Gandhi for canvassing. Niranjan Shetty, BJP spokesperson, said, “The Congress’s desperation is out in the open. Now even for BMC polls they are getting Rahul here and in the future may get Sonia Gandhi too.”

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