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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Parties go all out to woo Delhi traders hit by sealing drive, GST hiccups

The traders are the traditional vote bank of the BJP in Delhi and the party has already announced a slew of promises consolidate its support base for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 17, 2019 11:42 IST
Risha Chitlangia
Risha Chitlangia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A delegation of traders from Mayapuri met Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
A delegation of traders from Mayapuri met Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
         

Addressing the trading community in Delhi, already affected by the ongoing sealing drive and in the past by demonetisation and the initial hiccups in the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), is going to be on top of political parties’ agenda this election.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress are projecting the sealing drive, which led to a shutdown of nearly 6,000 commercial units across the city since December 2017, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s failure.

The BJP, which is in power in the three municipal corporations and at the Centre, is going all out to clarify its position among the community by holding meetings and stressing on the fact that the drive was ordered by the Supreme Court.

The traders are the traditional vote bank of the BJP and the party has already announced a slew of promises such as insurance for traders and setting up of a trade commission and a welfare board to consolidate its support base.

Also, at the invitation of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the community on Friday at Talkatora Stadium.

Also Read | Mayapuri sealing drive: BJP, AAP leaders trade blame over violence

The AAP and the Congress, which have been campaigning in the capital’s markets, plan to intensify their campaigns in the next few weeks to highlight the “BJP’s failure to address the issue of sealing and the adverse impact of its policies”.

Congress leader and prospective candidate from New Delhi constituency, Ajay Maken, has been reaching out to traders citing steps taken by the then Congress government in 2006 to protect them from sealing.

“It is not just sealing, traders have also suffered a lot due to demonetisation and the GST roll-out. The present government has failed to provide relief to traders from sealing. They failed to present the matter properly before the apex court,” Maken, who was the urban development minister during the 2006 sealing drive, said. 

The BJP, however, does not think demonetisation and GST have had a negative impact on business. Union minister Vijay Goel said, “Our government has made 185 amendments to the GST to make it easier to implement. The AAP government should ask itself what it had done to ensure ease of business.”

Goel also said the BJP-led Centre made amendments to the master plan. “Traders know that the sealing is being carried out on the orders of the monitoring committee (appointed by the apex court). But the AAP government should tell people why it had delayed the notification of 351 roads as commercial streets? They could have protected traders in these areas, but they did nothing.”

The AAP, which enjoys the support of those in slum clusters and unauthorised colonies, has been trying hard to make inroads into the BJP’s trader vote bank. “It has been over a year and the BJP at the Centre has done nothing to make traders feel safe. They (BJP) could have brought in an ordinance to stop the sealing, but they didn’t do that either,” said Brijesh Goyal, AAP’s trader wing leader and candidate from New Delhi, who has been leading the charge against “BJP’s failure” to stop sealing drive, said.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, who had recently held a meeting with trader organisations in the city, said his party is focusing on the concerns of the community. “In our election manifesto, we have addressed various problems faced by the community. From accidental insurance to formation of a trade commission, the BJP has promised a slew of measures for the welfare of traders. Traders have always supported us and will continue to do so.”

The sealing drive in Phase 2 of the Mayapuri Industrial Area on Saturday, on the directions of the Delhi government’s Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), has given a political handle to the BJP.

The party has gone on an offensive since then, blaming the AAP government in Delhi for the drive and directing its officials in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation not to participate in any sealing drive till May 12.

As political parties trade barbs to garner the support of traders, the community now wants to play a proactive role in policy making. CAIT has proposed the name of its general secretary Praveen Khandelwal, who had unsuccessfully contested from Chandni Chowk in 2008 assembly elections, as the BJP candidate from the Chandni Chowk constituency.

For complete coverage of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, click here

First Published: Apr 17, 2019 11:42 IST

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