Millions of jewellers have decided to call off their indefinite strike after 43 days after Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi addresses them.
Earlier, jewellers had sought intervention from political leaders including Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and other leaders in the Congress party after it received no respite from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Several representations were made by jewellers against the 1% excise duty levy.
“We see no ray of hope for a rollback (in excise duty) and therefore we have decided to open our shops on Wednesday,” said Kumar Jain, Director of Umedmal Tilokchand Zaveri, a jewellery retailer at Zaveri Bazaar.
For the last 43 days, not a single rupee worth of business was done in the popular Zaveri Bazaar here, which in normal course, executes orders worth Rs 7,500 crore.
Despite the strike, shop owners continued to incur fixed costs including energy bill, maintenance of shop and labour costs, which posed a threat on the overall annual income as they would be able to recover the loss in few months.
Jewellers began indefinite strike on March 1, immediately after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced 1% excise duty levy in the Union Budget 2016-17 on February 29.
“We were hoping that the strike would create a pressure on the government and the excise levy would be rolled back as done on the past two occasions. But, the government is adamant this time. How long are we going to continue in this manner? The worst thing is that the government has made the entire jewellery industry susceptible with people have started looking at us with suspicious eyes,” said a jeweller associated with one the leading associations.
Industry estimates an overall loss of Rs 50,000 crore due to strike.