UP traders' 50 hr bandh to protest VAT evokes partial response

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Lucknow, Nov 27 (UNI) Defying the Allahabad High Court's directive, a 50-hour-long bandh call given by a section of Uttar Pradesh traders to protest the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) regime today evoked a partial response.

While wholesalers downed shutters in most parts of the state, most retailers ignored the bandh.

Reports of obstructing railway and road traffic were also received from different parts of the state.

The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court had yesterday rapped traders' leader Banwari Lal Kanchal for giving UP bandh call.

A Division Bench comprising Justices Pradeep Kant and Rajiv Sharma passed this order on a writ petition filed by Sanyukt Vyapar Mandal Association secretary Prem Lal.

The court issued notice to Mr Kanchal seeking an explanation under what law or Constitutional right, the call for bandh and 'chakka jam' had been given.

The petitioner had challenged the bandh call, under which shops and business establishments would be closed. Besides, road and train traffic would be disrupted during the bandh.

Directing against chakka jam, the HC observed that medicine shops and emergency services would function as normal, while vehicles would continue to ply.

The Uttar Pradesh Udyog Vyapar Pratinidhi Mandal, a trader organisation affiliated to the Samajwadi Party, had called for a 50 hr 'UP Bandh' beginning this morning. Other traders' bodies, the opposition Samajwadi Party and the BJP, were also supporting the bandh against VAT -- likely to be implemented from December 1, 2007.

Mandal president and SP Rajya Sabha MP Banwari Lal Kanchal claimed traders stopped several trains across the state. ''The bandh call has evoked a good response,'' he said.

The organisations opposing implementation of VAT said they will not accept the new tax regime in the present form which they termed as ''anti-trader.'' The traders said the government should implement the new VAT system for those traders whose annual business was over Rs 15 lakh.

At present the government has proposed to bring all the traders whose business stood at Rs five lakh yearly under the new regime, probably to be implemented in a phased manner from December 1 next.

''The new VAT system will only bring corruption and harrassment for the traders while the revenue of the government will dip and the consumers have to pay more for their purchase,'' Mr Kanchal alleged.

The organisation had already held a day long UP bandh on September 11 against the VAT regime.

Earlier, the activists of the same trader group led by its president held a violent protest in Lucknow and Varanasi on August 22 against the Reliance Fresh retail chain which forced the Mayawati government to order closure of all the outlets in the state over law and order problem.

Meanwhile, the BJP has said that UP Chief Minister Mayawati should have a talk with the traders and have their views before imposing Value Added Tax (VAT) in the state.

''The CM should take into consideration the views of the state traders, so as to reach an agreement into levy of the tax, BJP MP from Gorakhpur Aditya Nath said.

The forceful levy of VAT is akin to imposing 'Inspector Raj' in UP, he claimed. The tax would not only ruin traders, but adversely affect the commanman, who would have to pay more price for essential commodities, the BJP MP underlined.


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