Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and the state party in-charge Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday faced slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they visited the main textile market in Surat which has become the epicentre of the anti-GST protest being spearheaded by textile traders. Traders have been observing bandh since July 1 to protest imposition of five per cent Goods and Services Tax on clothes. As soon as Gehlot and Solanki reached the main textile market this afternoon, some unidentified persons started shouting ‘Modi Modi’, visuals of which were aired by some local news channels.
When asked about the incident, Solanki said those who raised the slogans were not traders.
“No trader opposed our visit. They were against the GST, not against us. Media may have interpreted it otherwise. The Congress is always with traders in their fight against the GST. We will extend out support to them for whatever programmes they intend to organise against the tax,” he told reporters.
Surat-based Congress corporator and powerloom owner Ashok Jirawala claimed that those who raised the slogans were sent by the BJP to create an impression that traders are happy with the new tax regime.
“This is the style of the BJP. Otherwise, almost all textile merchants are against the GST which is the reason why this market has been closed for the last one week,” he said.
On Monday, thousands of traders who gathered outside the market demanding scrapping of the 5 per cent GST, were baton-charged after they allegedly hurled stones at the police personnel.
On Wednesday, cloth shop owners in Surat, Ahmedabad and other parts of the state announced to continue with the indefinite strike against the GST and in solidarity with the traders in Surat.