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Will BJP's traditional trader lobby vote against it?


New Delhi, April 05: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long been carrying the tag of a 'baniya' (traders') party. The traders, however, have started giving such impressions just before the Lok Sabha elections that if they are approached by other parties with a promise to resolve their issues then they may shift allegiance.

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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the apex body for traders in the country, National President B.C. Bhartia says that it is ironic that traders are considered as core vote bank of the BJP and that is why the other political parties keep distance from the traders whereas on the other hand BJP also never gives due importance to its core vote bank.

"The traders feel themselves like an orphan child in the political spectrum of the Country despite their strong presence. There are about 7 crore traders across Country and nearly 30 crore people are dependent upon these traders for their livelihood and if their votes are converted into a vote bank, the election scenario can be changed completely," says Bhartiya.

The CAIT is trying to consolidate the trading community across Country into a Vote Bank andorganisded National Traders Conference at Puducherry in which a large number of trade leaders from 26 states participated.

[Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu: Stakes high for AIADMK, DMK]

The outcome of the conference is that the trading community can impact 195 Lok Sabha Constituencies in 19 States.

According to the CAIT, these 195 seats include 33 seats in UP, 21 seats in Maharashtra, 16 seats each in West Bengal and Tamilnadu,15 seats in Bihar, 14 seats in Madhya Pradesh, 13 seats in Gujarat, 11 seats in Rajasthan, 10 seats in Karnataka, 07 seats each in North East region and Odisha, 06 seats in Jharkhand, 05 seats in Kerala, 04 seats each in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, 04 seats in Haryana, 03 seats each in Telangana, Punjab and Delhi.

The Confederation has also given a warning to the political parties, particularly BJP, that by launching a whisper campaign, the traders can influence the mindset of voters.

"Shops are the best venue for a whisper campaign for or against any political party. If traders start whispering good or bad about any political party with their respective customers it influences the mindset of the consumer. In earlier days it was a shop of paanwala, tea vendor or sweet maker shop where people used to discuss politics during elections and form an opinion," says the CAIT.

However, a political analyst says it is unlikely that the large chunk of the trading community will vote against the BJP.

"Most of the traders are Rajasthani, Gujarati, Sindhis, and Punjabis who are ideologically connected with the BJP. This connection is hard to break. Though the CAIT claims its diktat will be followed by the traders and people associated with them, it seems difficult. The whisper campaigns at tea stalls or paanwala shops have lost significance to an extent as the social media platforms have become the biggest source of whisper campaigns," says the analyst.

The trader lobby is also running its national campaign "One Nation-One Trader-Ten Votes" across Country more vigorously to make traders aware about the importance of their vote.

The traders' body also released a National Charter on Thursday at Puducherry wherein important demands like a robust e-commerce policy to clean current highly vitiated e-commerce business in India, a National Trade Policy for Retail Trade and creation of a separate Ministry of Internal Trade, formation of a Retail Regulatory Authority and a Regulatory Authority for e-commerce on the pattern of SEBI, simplification & Rationalisation of GST Tax Structure, scheme to upgrade & modernise existing retail trade in India, incentives for adoption & acceptance of digital payments by traders including waiver of bank charges on digital transactions, introduction of a balanced Model Tenancy Act, overall review of Food Safety & Standards Act, amendments in procedure of Mudra Yojana by including Non Banking Finance Companies & Micro Finance Institutions as loan disbursement Agencies instead of Banks, and formation of a National Board of Internal Trade comprising representatives of Trade.

[Stay up to date with our election coverage here]

The Charter also include Redefining of credit norms for small businesses, Better Infrastructure facilities in Commercial Markets , Augmentation of safety & security of traders and commercial markets with help of Trade Associations, Food grains & essential items should be taken out from Commodity Exchanges and abolition of Toll tax payers in Jammu , Mandi Tax & Professional Tax across Country to make GST as one tax regime , only one license for conducting any business in India and representation to traders from Gram Panchayat to State legislative council.

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