Local leaders miss rally, say invitation not sent

5,000 members of trader, transport bodies participate in stir, submit appeal to District Collector asking Centre to roll back decision

As senior BJP leaders, Left parties and Samajwadi Party members in Parliament are strongly opposing the Centre's decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct equity in the retail market, their city wing leaders were waiting for an invitation to join the nationwide shutdown (Bharat bandh) yesterday. 

Laxmi Road wears a deserted look. PICS/Krunal Gosavi

Nearly 5,000 members from the traders and transport association along with some city-based NGOs held a rally from Kasba Peth to the Collector's Office and submitted a letter to the Collector Vikas Deshmukh, appealing to roll back their decision.

Not in favour: Various traders' associations protest before the 
Collector's Office yesterday;   

The local leaders of all those political parties who were opposing the government's decision had announced to render their support to the traders' association, only sent letters supporting the cause and remained absent in the day-long protest. 

BJP MLA Girish Bapat said that he did not receive an invitation from traders' association to join the protest. "How can we join their protest when they did not invite us?" asked Bapat, adding that the association's head met us a few days back and told us that they want to protest in 'non political ways'. Bapat further said, "It was their protest. Morally the party was supporting them but without their invitation we didn't want to join them."

While, CPI (M) leader Kiran Moghe said, "After repeatedly asking them (association) about their day-long schedule, the association members did not let us know the time they would reach the Collector's Office, where they were supposed to submit the letter to the collector. Improper time management and miscommunication was the reason we couldn't join their protest," Moghe added.  

The members of various trade associations denied charges made by political leaders. President of Poona Merchant's Chamber, Ajit Setiya, said, "We had informed them about our schedule. It was not just our bandh, but theirs too. We were expecting them to join us or protest in their own ways, but only two-three party leaders were present." 

A member from the trade association, on condition of anonymity, said, "We started our rally from Kasba Peth which is BJP's constituency. We were expecting the people's representative from Kasba constituency to join us. We had sent messages to the MLA through a party member, but no one showed interest to join us." 

Other cities
Local BJP members joined the protest with traders in other cities in the country. A BJP worker from Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) told MiD DAY, "We came on the streets to protest with traders against the FDI. Although BJP did not call for the bandh, it was our responsibility to support the traders by joining them in their agitation." 
One of the BJP workers in Delhi told MiD DAY that their party members had also joined the traders' protest by organising marches and burning effigies of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in various locations. 

Shops shut
Laxmi Road wore a deserted look because several shops were shut down. Similarly, the wholesale shops in Market Yard area were also closed to support the bandh against the Central government's FDI policy. 

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