Controversy brewing over the Congress' decision to call for a state-wide 'bandh (shutdown)' to protest against the Vyapam scam on July 16 has put the party on the back foot as trade organisations are showing serious reservations against shutting shop and losing business a day before Eid.
The city Congress has come out to clarify that the bandh will only be observed up to 2 pm on a "voluntary basis."
"The Congress has been in touch with different trade organizations in the city, and we have requested them to co-operate in our effort to protest against this massive scam that has caused so many deaths. The party doesn't believe in forcibly closing down shops and it will be done on a voluntary basis," city Congress president Pramod Tandon said.
However, a number of traders in the city feel the date for the bandh was chosen without due consideration. "They should have chosen another date for this bandh. The sales pick up a couple of days before Eid, which is likely to fall on July 18," said Mohammed Aslam, a trader in Khajrana.
The traders of Khajrana market have said that they will not observe the bandh. Many traders also come to the city from nearby towns to sell their wares, mostly cosmetics and garments, at such makeshift markets.
The Association of Industry, Madhya Pradesh, has opposed the bandh call issued by the Congress party. "We don't want to shut down our factories in these times of economic slowdown," association president Hemant Mehtani said in a statement.
The association has requested the district administration to ensure that no untoward incident takes place in the industrial areas of the city on July 16.
With Bohra Eid falling on July 17, traders in other locations too will loath shutting shop a day before the festival. Markets in Saifi Nagar and Sapna Sangeeta region are expected to ignore the bandh call and remain open.
The Shramik Shetra Vyapari Sangh too has said it will not be observing the bandh.
With a damp squib on his hands, city Congress president Tandon appears to skirting responsibility. When asked if the choice of date for the bandh was grossly miscalculated, Tandon passed the buck saying the decision was taken by the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee in Bhopal.