After much distress, disillusionment and dialogue, the city’s retailers called off the Local Body Tax (LBT) strike late last evening. The Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) has announced that shops will open today.
Viren Shah, president, FRTWA, said, “Many retailers wanted to call of the strike because of the festive season. Others felt that the common man was being inconvenienced. However, we will continue to protest by not registering LBT, and only paying five per cent VAT.”
Starting today, retailers between South Mumbai and Bandra, Vile Parle and Santacruz will open their shops.
Wholesalers, however, have not arrived at the same conclusion yet. Speaking to SMD, a member of the Joint Action Committee of Textile Traders Association said, “We will not break our strike under any circumstances.”
Meanwhile, yesterday, before the strike was called off, traders and shopkeepers found newer ways of expressing their discontent after the Maharashtra government decided that it will levy the LBT from October 1.
On Saturday afternoon, nearly 1,000 traders formed a human chain between Mohammad Ali Road and Crawford Market and protested for two hours. Viral Shah, a trader of the Gifts and Novelties Association, who was a part of the chain had said, “If we accept LBT, we will suffer for life.”
The Supreme Court’s refusal of the Maharashtra traders’ associations plea to grant interim stay on the tax aggravated protestors. More so, the traders felt that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan turned a blind eye to their issue. A member of the Joint Action Committee of Textile Traders Associations, on condition of anonymity, said, “We have a problem with LBT’s regulations, which are not conducive to business and harass us. The chief minister’s attitude isn’t helping either. We will soon come out on the streets with our wives and children and protest dressed in black.”
Other traders took the religious route. Yesterday, the Joint Action Committee of Textile Traders Associations performed a ‘maha yagna’ for the welfare of the traders at Riddhi Siddhi Mandir at Zaveri Bazaar. A member of the association said, “We arranged for this yagna so that God blesses the government with sensibility.”