A one-day trade strike called by Bhartiya Udyog Vyapar Mandal (BUVM) against the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) received mixed response in West Bengal on Friday. In Kolkata, most of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC)-run markets were open. However, Burrabazar, one of Asia’s biggest wholesale markets, remained shut. Most shops in New Market (SS Hogg Market) were closed too.
“More than seventy per cent markets observed bandh today. The strike was observed to protest against the complexities of GST. We are not against GST but we want a simplified GST. We are against the procedures and provisions of the GST which will be effective from July 1,” said Mahesh Singhania, BUVM patron and Chairman of the Federation of West Bengal Trade Associations.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of Forum of Traders Organisation of Paschimbanga (FTOP) Rabindranath Koley said the strike had no effect in the city. “Out of 46 KMC markets in the city, only three or four remained closed. Out of 300 private markets, 250 were open. The strike was only observed in Burrabazar and New Market areas. However, the strike had no effect in south Kolkata as most of the markets and shops were open,” Koley told The Indian Express.
Traders in Malda, North Dinajpur and Nadia districts too showed solidarity with the strike, although not completely.
Singhania thanked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for “standing by” them. “She does not support strikes but she supported us in this case. We want to thank her for standing by us in this difficult time,” he said.
The Chamber of Textile Trade and Industry (COTTI) observed a similar strike, extending its three-day strike by one day against GST.