The rift between wholesalers and retailers is widening as they continue to squabble over their agitation against the local body tax (LBT).
However, though the retailers have broken ranks and withdrawn from the strike on Saturday, there are apprehensions they would run out of goods as the wholesalers persist with the agitation.
The retailers were already unhappy as they were suffering losses by keeping shops closed for five-six days, and the latest provocation is the meeting held by wholesale traders with government authorities on Monday.
The retailers point out that the wholesalers have not taken them into confidence. “There are no representatives of the retail fraternity in the government committee, though it was our joining [the strike] which gave a momentum to the anti-LBT agitation,” said Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association. He said the retailers were not even informed of the meeting with chief secretary JK Banthia.
He said the retailers withdrew from the strike after six days as they felt nothing was being gained. “We will open the shops and still agitate. We will not strike henceforth,” said Shah.
However, the Federation of Association of Maharashtra reiterated the retailers are still with them and blamed Shah for the fiasco. “He is a backstabber and hardly enjoys any support. Many retailers will down their shutters from Wednesday,” said Milapchand Kunango, vice-president, FAM. “What will the retailers sell when we don’t supply them goods. It is time for unity and we will go to every lane and convince retailers to join us,” he said.
Wholesale markets have been closed since April 22 and markets such as steel, electrical, imitation jewellery, hardware, printing and stationary are also observing a shutdown.
In a major decision, the Agricultural Produce Market Committee, which runs the agricultural wholesale market, has decided to open from Wednesday for three days. “We have decided to open to clear the stocks which has been stored since last week,” said Jayesh Vora, director, APMC. This would ensure some relief as the supply of food grains would be eased.
The consumers, meanwhile, said the condition had improved considerably after the retailers withdrew from the strike.