New Delhi: Protesting against the Central Government’s move of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail and while protecting the interest of neighbourhood and small stores an all-India bandh was called by traders and politicians on Thursday. Despite the hype, the bandh witnessed a mixed response in different parts of the country.

READ MORE: No plan to revisit FDI retail policy: Centre

The BJP and other opposition parties have demanded a rollback on the FDI decision and the response to the bandh call in Opposition-ruled Gujarat and Bihar was partial. In Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Assam also it was partial.

'Kirana' and neighbourhood shops remained open in a majority of places. In Delhi, markets like Sarojini Nagar and INA disassociated from the day-long strike call, saying the protest was uncalled for.

Shopkeepers in many cities took out marches demanding a rollback of the government move even as traders' bodies said the decision will create an uneven playing field in the country which will tilt towards multi-national companies and prove to be a "nightmare" for traders and consumers.

Confederation of All India Traders' (CAIT) Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal claimed traders across the country were participating in the strike.

"Around five crore traders belonging to 10,000 traders' bodies across the country are participating in the bandh. Traders took out marches in commercial markets across the country," Khandelwal said.

Big markets like Karol Bagh, Sadar Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Chawri Bazar, Kashmere Gate, Tilak Nagar, Rohini, Krishna Nagar and Greater Kailash M Block in Delhi remained closed.

The BJP also joined the strike in Delhi by organizing marches and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in at least 20 locations of the city.

Small and medium traders across Maharashtra including Mumbai downed their shutters. Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM), the apex body of 750 trade, transport and small-scale associations, claimed that about 35 lakh traders in the state had joined the strike. Most shops and establishments in West Bengal downed their shutters including in the wholesale market in Posta area of Burrabazar, the largest in the state.

Ruling out any roll-back of the policy to allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail in the country, the government said it would issue the guidelines in due course.

"The rules will be framed which answer the issues raised and decisions taken in the Cabinet," Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) P K Chaudhery said.

Shops and business establishments in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Odisha by and large remained shut.

Many private schools remained closed in Patna as a precautionary measure. While ruling NDA in Bihar has extended support to the strike, Congress and LJP have opposed it. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said he would not allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail.

"We have received good response for the bandh in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai as traders of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) have joined call to support the one-day bandh. Major markets of grain, fruits and vegetables, onion and potato and 'kirana' have observed bandh today," FAM President Mohan Gurnani said.

"Traders from all over the country, including Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala and other states, are strongly opposing FDI in retail. This is a question of our existence and, hence, there are no divisions," he claimed.

Maintaining that there was no need for foreign investment in the sector, Khandelwal said here, "The Government should withdraw the permission of FDI in retail".

He said Indian retail sector was being run successfully by the indigenous capital at the rate of 15 percent and contributing 10 percent of GDP. "So no FDI was required".

"The foreign retailers can open in big cities, but they will source from mandis across rural India and small town. With their money and power over time, they can corner the supply of produce and dominate outsources side," he said.

In Roorkee the bandh failed to make any major impact. District president of Vyapar Mandal Kesarwani said, “We are with obvious reasons upset with the Centre’s FDI decision but as it is a spiritual city, we don’t want people to face problem.”

Commodity, bullion markets closed

All wholesale commodity markets, including bullion are closed in the national capital on Thursday, following an all India 'bandh' called by traders associations to protest against the government's decision to allow FDI in retail sector.

A bandh call given by various traders associations asked large number of traders to keep their shutters down to support the move to protest the government decision of allow foreign direct investment in the retail sector.

The wholesale and retail markets in Chandni Chowk, Fatehpuri, Khari Baoli in walled, Sadar Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Chawri Bazar, Connaught Place, Karol Bagh, Khan Market, Kashmere Gate, Tilak Nagar, Rohini, Krishna Nagar among others which participated in the one-day Bharat Vyapar Bandh.

Confederation of All India Traders' Delhi unit president Narender Madan said a large number of traders have kept their shops shut to participate in the all-India bandh.

JPN/Bureau/Agencies