Traders and mathadis (headloaders) of the wholesale agriculture produce market committee (APMC) organised a protest rally against foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail trade approved by the Centre.
The protesters warned that the government would be brought down over the issue. The rally was supported by the federation of association of Maharashtra (FAM), grains, rice, oilseeds merchant association (GROMA), Navi Mumbai merchants chamber, and the mathadi union.
The protesters marched from APMC market to Shivaji Chowk in Vashi raising anti-government slogans and demanded to know why the cabinet taken the step despite stiff opposition from major political parties including its allies. The traders said that in an effort to create jobs for a few, crores of jobs are being put at stake. They said small shopkeepers, retailers, wholesalers and distributors will all perish.
“The UPA government will have to withdraw its decision. We will not let Walmart set foot in Maharashtra. The retail stores will be beneficial only to business houses, not the poor or unemployed,” said Mohammed Naseem Siddiqui, trader and president of Maharashtra state minority commission. “December 1 should not just be Maharashtra bandh but the entire country should be closed. Protests should be made by farmers and everybody who will be affected, so that the government is forced to rethink.”
“Sixty million dollars have been spent by international brands just to advertise in India. Imagine how much they will spend to make their mark in our markets,” said Mohan Gurnani, FAM president. “A government that does not think about its people should be pulled down. These MNCs have the power of notes but we have the power of votes.”
“Initially the farmers will be paid as per their demand for their produce by the MNCs. Once the traders are gone, the farmers will be forced to sell at rates dictated to them,” said mathadi leader Narendra Patil. “Why does the government not allow us in the APMC market to enter retail? Why have we been restricted to wholesale only,” asked Patil.