New Delhi: Most of the markets in the national capital remained shut on Thursday as traders observed the all-India bandh in protest against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail sector.
BJP also joined the traders' protest by organising marches and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in at least 20 locations of the city.
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.
Madan claimed wholesale and retail markets were closed in Sadar Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Chawri Bazar, Karol Bagh, Kashmere Gate, Tilak Nagar, Rohini, Krishna Nagar and other markets.
CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said traders across the country were participating in the bandh to protest the government decision to allow FDI in retail.
"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.
Khandelwal said the decision on FDI will create an uneven playing field in the country which will tilt towards MNCs and prove to be a "nightmare" for traders and consumer.
Maintaining that there was no need for foreign investment in the sector, he said, "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 per cent and contributing 10 per cent 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 the outsources side," he said.
Traders took out marches and staged 'dharnas' in other states too.
The Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations (CWBTA), the apex body of the most prominent trade associations of the state, having over five lakh small and medium level traders, said all sister trade bodies are supporting the bandh call.
The traders alleged that the Centre's decision of allowing FDI in retail sector would spell disaster for small traders, in particular endangering the livelihood of millions of trading community.
Most of the political parties and trade unions have supported the day's token strike.
The announcement was made by the Confederation of All India Traders and around 10,000 trade bodies are set to participate in a 'Bharat Bandh' protest on Thursday.
In Delhi, traders are also planning to stage a sit-in at Jantar Mantar.
Activist Anna Hazare said the government must take the hint from these protests and rollback the decision to allow FDI in retail.
With Additional Inputs from PTI