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Citizens hope SC will end stand-off

As the state government and the traders stick to their guns regarding implementation of the local body tax (LBT), citizens continue to suffer, with many kitchens running out of supply.

mumbai Updated: May 10, 2013 02:14 IST
HT Correspondent

As the state government and the traders stick to their guns regarding implementation of the local body tax (LBT), citizens continue to suffer, with many kitchens running out of supply.

"I barely have any grocery left and there seems to be no sign of this strike getting over," said Ananya Chatterjee, an Andheri-based housewife.

The only respite may now come in the form of a Supreme Court ruling, which will hear the matter on Friday.

As shops stayed shut for the fourth day in a row, traders demanded that the Congress party clarify its stand on the LBT within the next seven days.

According to Mohan Gurnani, president, Federation of Association of Maharashtra (FAM), all political parties, except Congress, have supported them. "If the Congress does not support us, we will ensure its defeat in the 2014 elections," he said. "The party will lose the votes of not only traders, but also their families and workers. We will not allow any party which opposes us to win," he added.

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The traders have been agitating against the LBT, which is to replace octroi. Chief minister Prithviraj has adopted a hard stance and is adamant that the tax be implemented.

The Congress, however, seems to be divided on the issue. A few Congress MPs took the issue to party chief Sonia Gandhi asking her to intervene in the matter.

Congress party spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the state was firm about implementing LBT. "They [the traders] are holding people to ransom and their strike is illegal," he said. "The tax will be discussed in the legislature and then passed through democratic means. There is no such law passed till now and if the traders have any grievances they can approach the committee which has been formed," he added.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), though the part of the government, still wants talks on the issue.

A Shiv Sena-led delegation met Governor K Sankaranarayanan and asked him to intervene in the matter.

The agitating traders have also decided to stop paying LBT in all the 23 municipal corporations and councils and decided to pay just 5% of the VAT amount. "We want to tell the government that they cannot take us for granted and till we take such steps, the state will not notice us," said Gurnani.

How BMC is losing revenue through octroi evasion