The ongoing all-India strike by jewellery associations against additional excise duty on gold, has turned into a political battleground.
Senior political leaders from the Shiv Sena, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have come out in support of jewellers who have been on strike for 37 days – the longest in nearly eight years.
“The strike is causing a loss of sales of Rs 6,500 crore and a revenue loss of Rs 2,100 crore per day. As against an average import of 90 tonnes of gold, last month saw the import of only 12 tonnes,” said Kumar Jain, secretary, India Bullion and Jewellers Association Ltd (IBJA).
Jewellers are opposing imposition of additional one per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery that was announced in the Union Budget on February 29. The government has proposed one per cent excise duty on jewellery without input credit or 12.5 per cent with input tax credit on jewellery excluding silver, other than those studded with diamonds and precious stones.
Interestingly, the agitation that was started by various jewellery associations has now become an opportunity for political leaders to air their opposition against government policies.
On Tuesday, Shiv Sena MPs tried meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi but failed to get an appointment. The party now plans to support the agitation from Mumbai.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who has already met the striking jewellers in Delhi, is expected to again lend his support in Mumbai in the coming week.
“Next week, Rahul Gandhi is expected to come to Mumbai and meet representatives of jewellery associations as part of his itinerary,” said Mr Jain.
Incidentally, Mr Gandhi on Wednesday said the additional excise duty is an “assassination attempt” on traders by the government. “This is not an excise duty on you. This is an assassination attempt on you. You are being killed… But why are you being killed? Who will benefit from this?” he said while addressing a rally of IBJA and Swarnakar Federation at Jantar Mantar.
Earlier this week, AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also addressed a rally of striking jewellers.
[Source:- The Hindu]