Two textile traders, who played key role in the ongoing agitation of the industry against the implementation of GST, have demanded tickets from BJP and Congress to contest the upcoming Assembly elections, even as they backed the decision of the Surat textile markets to observe a “dark” Diwali in protest of the new tax regime. They also claimed support for their protest from several other textile associations from across the country.
Surat GST Sangharsh Samithi president and BJP leader Tarachand Kasat, who started the agitation against the GST, recently made representations before a team of BJP observers for contesting the Assembly elections from Majura seat in Surat. On the other hand, Federation of Surat textile Traders Association (FOSTTA) general secretary Champalal Bothra a few days ago met senior Congress leaders and demanded a party ticket from Udhna or Limbayat constituency in Surat.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Kasat said, “I have, earlier, contested the Municipal elections in Surat city on a BJP ticket but lost. I have represented myself before a team of observers of BJP, who were then in Surat. I am hopeful of getting a ticket.” Bothra, who has no previous experience of contesting polls, justified his claim for a Congress ticket and said he enjoys support from local party leaders. “I met Congress leaders and sought a ticket from Limbayat or Udhna Assembly seat. It is up to the party to consider my demand,” he said.
The textile traders of Surat had formed GST Sangharsh Samithi to protest the new tax regime and put forward their set of demands, including withdrawal of 5 per cent GST on textile trade. The GST Sangharsh Samithi and the FOSTTA had also made several representations to Union Cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
There are over 60,000 textile markets in Surat city. Experts say the daily turnover of textile business pre-GST was Rs 130 crore and it has now reduced to 40 per cent. Meanwhile, during a meeting on Thursday afternoon, FOSTTA president Manoj Agrawal told presidents of different textile markets that the decision to light and decorate markets during Diwali was their prerogative. A majority of textile markets have decided to observe a “dark” Diwali in protest of the GST implementation, even as some traders opposed it saying that decorating markets should not be linked to the GST issue.
Textile traders of Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Bhilwara, Mumbai and Andhra Pradesh also decided to join the protest by not lighting up textile markets in their respective cities. Both Kasat and Bothra backed the decision of the textile traders of observing a dark Diwali. “Some traders have decided to decorate only the interior of their shops. This is a way to protest the Central government’s decision of GST, which has made it a black Diwali for textile traders,” said Bothra as he confirmed that the textile markets will remain closed from October 19 to 25.
Kasat said, “We talked to the textile traders associations in different states. The textile markets in Bhilwara and Jaipur in Rajasthan, and Ahmedabad and Surat in Gujarat as well as textile markets in Mumbai and some in Andhra Pradesh have extended support to our movement.”