Mumbai, Feb 21: Thousands of traders representing businesses across the state protested here Friday evening against the Local Body Tax (LBT) and demanded its repeal, a rally organiser said.
“Our anti-LBT agitation has been going on for over a year now and despite several assurances, the state government has done nothing regarding our demand to scrap it,” Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) president Mohan Gurnani said while addressing the traders.
Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association chief Viren Shah said that owners of many business and trading establishments shut their outlets for half day Friday so they could join the protest rally.
The traders representing all sections of businesses, trading, restaurants, jewellery trade and neighbourhood provision stores joined the rally in large numbers, he said.
“They protested along with their staff members to show unity against the harassment and additional tax burden on traders. We shall urge the aggrieved trading community to vote against all political parties which do not support our cause,” Shah said.
Addressing the gathering, he said: “We have decided to vote against the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance and others who support LBT. So far, only the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party have given us written commitments to scrap LBT if voted to power.”
Shah pointed out that traders, their families and employees account for over 10 million crucial votes in the state.
However, he said that though the response was enthusiastic, the numbers fell short of their expectations in view of the ongoing HSC examinations in the state and the sudden hot weather conditions.
At present, the LBT — which replaces the controversial octroi — has been implemented in 25 top municipal corporations, except Mumbai.
Gurnani said after the LBT is implemented, the state government plans to implement Local Panchayat Tax to cover all municipal councils and other local bodies in Maharashtra.
Gurnani said that FAM plans to submit another memorandum to the Maharashtra government urging abolition of LBT as it has led to harassment of the trader and business community in the state.