Gujarat Polls: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kick started election campaign in his unique style. But will his politically charged speeches be able to convince traders in diamond hub in Surat?
Gujarat Polls: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kickstarted election campaign in his unique style. But will his politically charged speeches be able to convince traders in diamond hub in Surat? Traders claimed that their business has been hit by the noteban and Goods and Services Tax (GST), according to Indian Express report. However, they still want to vote for BJP. Many of them claimed that they support the Patidar quota agitation but Hardik Patel’s influence has decreased because “the men around him are not so good”. Surat is considered as stroghold of BJP. In the 2012 Assembly elections, BJP had managed to win all 12 seats of the region. Despite the fact that traders are not overwhelmingly satisfied with demonetisation and GST, BJP MLA Ajay Choksi from Surat north is convinced all the 12 seats will go to the BJP. “The combination of voters is such that one has to do some management,” he said.
“Diamonds like these went for Rs 18,000 last year, this set is worth Rs 15,000 now. Sale picks up around this time (ahead of Christmas) but it is down now because everything needs a bill… First, demonetisation hit us hard, now GST. There is a slump in our business. We are all stuck in paperwork… we are not so literate, and all the paperwork will leave us with no profit,” trader Dineshbhai Patel said.
Sureshbhai Patel, a diamond broker who hails from Bhavnagar, says GST has hit the smaller businessmen harder. “Our earnings are down to Rs 10,000 a month. The big businessmen did not suffer much because they have everything on paper, and payment is all through ‘cash credit’ at the bank. Besides, their business is insured,” he was quoted as saying by IE.
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Ghanshyam Patel, who switched from embroidery to the diamond business 18 months ago, says, “The government wants to earn from our business for free. But if my business fails, who is responsible? Everyone thinks we are diamond traders, so we are rich, but this is a myth.”
Pushing the BJP’s campaign in Gujarat into high gear, PM Modi yesterday attacked the Congress and said he is ready to sell tea but will never sell the country, and asked Rahul Gandhi why he had applauded the release of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed.
Modi, who started his high voltage campaign with rallies in Bhuj in Kutch district, Jasdan in Rajkot, Chalala in Amreli and Kadodara near Surat, took on the opposition party on issues related to China, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed, the surgical strike as well as corruption. He accused the Congress vice president of applauding the release of a terrorist in Pakistan and asked why he hugged the Chinese ambassador during the Dokalam standoff. “You are happy to hug the Chinese ambassador, you are clapping at the release of Hafiz Saeed, you cannot respect Indian Army’s surgical strike… But why did you speak about it? You could have just remained silent,” he said in Bhuj, not specifying how and where Gandhi had hailed Saeed’s release