Traders across the country have been observing bandh against the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail sector.
Around 35 lakh small and medium traders across Maharashtra, neighbourhood shops were open but most of the markets in the national capital remained shut today.
Moreover, shops and establishments in both retail and wholesale segments in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and other states today too downed their shutters in response to an all-India strike called to protest the government's decision to allow FDI in retail.
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.
BJP 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.
Most of the political parties and trade unions have supported the day's token strike.
Confederation of All India Traders' Delhi unit president Narender Madan and Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations (CWBTA) said a large number of traders and all sister trade bodies have kept their shops shut to participate in the all-India bandh.
Madan claimed wholesale and retail markets in Delhi were closed in Sadar Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Chawri Bazar, Karol Bagh, Kashmere Gate, Tilak Nagar, Rohini, Krishna Nagar and other markets.
"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," CAIT Secretary General Praveen 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% and contributing 10% 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.