Angry at the reported move of the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) to join hands with Amazon and Flipkart for onboarding of traders on their e-commerce portals, a large number of traders on Thursday staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Calling upon Union MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari to reject any such proposed move, traders body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said it will not accept any kind of government "collusion" with Amazon and Flipkart.
"If the Ministry is so serious, let it create an independent e-commerce portal and the traders of the country will support such initiative and will do every bit of it to onboard seven crore traders of the country on such e-commerce portal," CAIT said in a statement.
The MSME Ministry earlier deferred its decision to create a government-owned e-commerce portal for MSME entities.
In a letter to Gadkari on December 9, CAIT drew attention to reports of the ministry initiating a move to join hands with e-commerce companies including Amazon and Flipkart.
The traders were also protesting against the alleged violation of the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy by Amazon and Flipkart and said that "it is nothing but a deep-rooted conspiracy of Amazon and Flipkart to enter into crony capitalism under the garb of bringing foreign investment which is being used for cash burning in maintaining predatory pricing and deep discounting, controlling inventory, having preferential seller system and exclusivity of products".
Apart from New Delhi, business leaders from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, among others, participated in the demonstration, CAIT said.
The traders of All India Mobile Retailers Association and All India Consumer Products Distributors' Federation also attended the demonstration in large numbers, it added.
CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal alleged that Flipkart and Amazon are leading losses of thousands of crores of rupees in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue by artificially lowering the prices and by showing huge losses in their business.
CAIT has already urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to conduct an investigation into these charges of tax avoidance.
The trade body has also urged Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to conduct an investigation into whether there is any violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) or other concerning laws by the e-commerce players.
Announcing the next phase of the national movement against Amazon and Flipkart, Bhartia and Khandelwal said that the families of traders across the country will protest on December 24.
A postcard campaign will be launched across the country from December 15, under which traders will send postcards to leaders including the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Finance Minister, Commerce Minister and the Chief Ministers of all the states urging for action against these two companies, CAIT said.
On December 27, traders in various cities will go on a day-long token hunger strike, it added.