Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Posted at: Dec 4, 2018, 1:39 AM; last updated: Dec 4, 2018, 1:39 AM (IST)

For Pink City traders, GST, demonetisation bold moves

Say they suffered but Modi acted in national interest

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

Jaipur, December 3

Few metres from the historic Hawa Mahal in Jaipur stands the vibrant Johri Bazaar, the trading hub of the Pink City, which is caught in election fever these days.

Neat kiosks line up the long market space that houses election offices of candidates of the ruling BJP, opposition Congress and Bharat Vahini Party, a new outfit floated by BJP rebel Ghanshyam Tiwari, former education minister in the Vasundhara Raje-led state government.

The market is bustling as though it has never quite reeled under twin disruptions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic moves — demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax — that the Opposition Congress has been aggressively rallying against.

But in Johri Bazaar, the traders have moved on having bought the PM’s argument that both GST and note ban were necessary for the country. “PM Modi is a lion. He undertook bold reforms for national good. We trust his leadership. He even takes on Pakistan. Demonetisation was necessary to purge the economy of bad money and terror money and that is what happened. GST has cleansed a corrupt system of taxation,” says 30-year-old Gaurav Sharma, who manages a fruit and vegetable business around the street corner and has generous returns from across the state. From textile and jewellery shop owners to shoemakers and sellers, all shades of traders feel demonetisation helped rein in black marketers and GST, though catastrophic at the start, has now stabilised.

“Change is always good. It takes time. Everyone understands. Demonetisation and GST are not election issues here. The PM is popular and his rallies even today see more visitation than all the rallies of Congress leaders put together,” says Pankaj, who works at a textile shop in Johri Bazaar. Shop owner Aman Sachdeva says traders are fine with the GST and business is back to normal.

“The glitches in GST are being improved and it is a good move which will help the country’s economy. PM Modi has converted black money into white and with a uniform tax regime, scope of corruption has ended. Someone had to lead the country towards a new path. Otherwise the old regressive system of multiple taxation would have continued,” says Sachdeva, who also trades in textile fabrics. Further down towards Hawa Mahal, jewellery-makers say GST and note ban had led to momentary shocks which have passed.

The owner of a jewellery shop said the dominant issue among Rajasthan’s upper castes this time was the dilution of a Supreme Court order that sought to rationalise the draconian provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities against SCs and STs Act.

“Upper castes are upset with the BJP for not standing their ground on this matter,” he said, adding the December 7 election remained too close to call. The BJP in Rajasthan hopes to retain its urban support base as it did in Gujarat post demonetisation and GST.

Out of 19 Assembly segments in Jaipur, eight are urban constituencies with BJP MLAs holding all eight.

The Congress is putting up a mighty challenge, with Rahul Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh repeatedly slamming Modi’s economic policy as a failure. Singh has called note ban “legalised loot and organised plunder”.



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