Even though he has denounced big showrooms staying open through the strike, BJP’s Mohit Kamboj himself went to inaugurate one in Borivli recently
Since March 1, nearly 10,000 jeweller have shut their shops in Mumbai to oppose the introduction of 1% excise duty on jewellery. While some joined the strike of their own accord, others were pushed into it by BJP man Mohit Kamboj, who is also the president of the India Bullion and Jewellers Association.
March 5: Kamboj put up this picture of the inauguration on Facebook
So it was surprising when Kamboj turned up to inaugurate a new jewellery store in Borivli for the PN Gadgil chain on March 5, and then, three days later, forced a Tanishq showroom to down its shutters in Ghatkopar to show solidarity with the strike.
When this reporter asked him why it was okay to open a new store when he was compelling operational shops to close, he said the inauguration had been planned in advance.
March 8: He compelled this store in Ghatkopar to shut down for the strike
Yesterday, mid-day visited the Tanishq store in Ghatkopar that had been asked to close down on Tuesday. The shutters were down, except for a small opening and inside, the manager was holding a meeting with the staff to discuss the incident.
A video grab of Kamboj in the store, asking the employees to down the shutters
One senior official said, “Our shop was running through all these days of protests. However, on Tuesday, Kamboj came with some 80-100 men, got in our shop and asked us to shut it down. We then decided to shut the shop as we did not want to suffer any loss.” The official added that they got confused as the excise duty had been introduced by the government led by Kamboj’s party.
Just three days before that, Kamboj had himself inaugurated the new PNG jewellery store in Borivli on March 5 and posted a picture of the event on his Facebook. His explanation for this was: “The inauguration of the Borivli shop had been decided at least a month ago. We just cut the ribbon and then went back to the strike; there was no business conducted.”
He further added, “We went to the Tanishq showroom on Tuesday and peacefully asked them to shut the shop. While small shops are shut, the big showrooms continue to function. They say they are listed companies and do not mind paying 1% more. But the big shops don’t understand the pain of smaller jewellers, so we asked them to shut their shop too.”
At a meeting of all jewellery associations at Azad Maidan yesterday, Kamboj also asked jewellery manufacturers not to support big showrooms that are operational during the strike.
Kamboj said the strike would go on until the excise duty was rolled back. So far, the jewellery sector across India has witnessed a loss of Rs 10,000 crore. Kamboj added that he and fellow protestors had met CM Devendra Fadnavis as well. The CM said he would talk to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley about the issue.