"Our anti-LBT agitation has been going on for over a year now and despite several assurances, the state government has done nothing about our demand to scrap it, hence we have decided to show our strength and solidarity on this contentious issue," Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) president Mohan Gurnani said.

The traders representing all sections of businesses, trading, restaurants, jewellery trade and neighborhood provision stores will join the protest rally, he said. Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association chief Viren Shah said that owners of all business and trading establishments have been urged to keep their outlets shut for half day on Friday and join the protest rally.

"They will come for the protest along with their staff members to show full unity against the harassment and additional tax burden on traders. We will urge the aggrieved trading community to vote against all political parties which do not support our cause," Shah said.

At present, the LBT which replaces the controversial octroi has been implemented in 25 top municipal corporations, except Mumbai. Gurnani said that after LBT is implemented, the state government plans to implement Local Panchayat Tax (LPT) to cover all municipal councils and other local bodies in Maharashtra.

Shah said that traders, their families and employees account for over 10 million votes in the state."We have decided to vote against the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party and others who support LBT.

So far, only Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party have given us written commitment to scrap LBT if they are voted to power," Shah claimed. Traders from across the state have already started arriving here since early Friday and will converge for the huge rally at Azad Maidan, Gurnani said.


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