The 'indefinite' strike by shop-owners across Maharashtra over the state's imposition of a new tax seems to have lost most of its fizz today, despite continuing strong noises from traders' associations.
The strike was supposed to involve all retailers, from groceries to dealers in electronic goods. However, the number of shops that actually downed shutters in Mumbai, Pune and other major cities was relatively few.
The traders' bodies have not gone back on their protest against the imposition of a Local Bodies Tax (LBT) to replace octroi; they merely cannot afford to lose business days and pile up inventories.
Used to paying taxes all down the line, the traders are willing to accept the LBT in principle – they only want the rules clarified so that there is no unwarranted harassment (read bribe demands) from the implementing authorities.
They have also put up the valid demand for exemption from the tax for traders who do not source goods from outside the civic jurisdiction in which they operate.
The new tax was implemented in several parts of the state, including Pune and the satellite towns of Mumbai, on 1 April. It will hit mainland Mumbai on 1 October.
Popatlal Ostwal, chairman of Federation of Trader Associations of Pune, said that a government resolution (GR) listing some changes promised by the chief minister on the floor of the state legislature by 7 May, failing which they will go on another strike.