After some residents’ bodies and teachers decided to boycott the Lok Sabha elections, now, city-based industrialists have decided to consolidate their vote bank and cast it to a single candidate to end the “discrimination” being faced by the city’s industry.
Ludhiana’s industry plays an important role in elections due to its vast resources. The city is home to numerous micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) that employ lakhs of migrant labourers, who could be a deciding factor during the elections.
There are at least 2.5 lakh migrant labourers working in different factories in Ludhiana, who are registered voters.
Word is being spread among industrialists, either through meetings or phone calls, to make them aware about the problems being faced by the industry and who could be the best solution to redress these issues.
According to the industry, there were several promises that both central as well as state governments made to the industry in Ludhiana, but were never fulfilled. This has infuriated the industry, which claims that both the Congress-lead UPA government at Centre, and SAD-BJP government in Punjab had not taken steps to uplift the industry in the state.
The industrialists also claim that the industry could have been stopped from fleeing to other states had both the governments taken timely steps.
Charanjit Singh Vishvkarma, president of United Cycle and Parts Manufacturer Association (UCPMA), said there were several demands that were made to the state as well as central governments, but they fell on deaf ears.
He said the imports from China had ruined the cycle parts’ industry in Ludhiana. “Central government has failed to increase the import duty that could have saved the local industry. On the other hand, it opened other routes under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) that has further alienated the industry,” Vishvkarma said.
The central government also did not remove the 2% excise duty on cycle parts despite several requests, which had left the industrialists with a bad taste, he added.
Industrialists also feel that the state government did not provide a new focal point or industrial area that was a need of the hour. Infrastructure at the present focal point and industrial area was also inadequate.
Another demand was of expansion of the airport, which was a responsibility of the central as well as the state governments. Both failed in these demands.
PD Sharma, president of Apex Chamber of Commerce, said the policies of the state and central governments might affect the voting pattern of the industrialists.
Badish Jindal, national president of Federation of Associations of Small Industries of India (FASII), said the budget of ministry of MSME was so less that it was not able to cater to the demands of the industry. “MSME is still not on priority of the central government as a result it is suffering,” Jindal claimed.
CONCERNS RELATED TO CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
No increase in import duty of cycle parts from China
No rollback of 2% excise duty on cycle parts
No 20% procurement from MSME as promised by central government
MNREGA scheme of central government raised labour cost and reduced inflow of labour
CONCERNS RELATED TO STATE GOVERNMENT
No new focal point
No proper exhibition ground
No reduction in high electricity tariff
Delay in expansion of airport