accept our demands, the traders will consider other options. They are forcing us to do that,” says Agarwal.
Five of Surat district’s 12 assembly seats can be influenced by textile traders. In the 2012 elections, the BJP won all 12 seats. This time, traders warn, there could be surprises for the party.
The Congress senses an opening and has pulled out all stops to woo the businessmen. Party vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed a rally in nearby Varachcha on November 3 and highlighted the problems of Surat’s traders. On November 8, he made it a point to visit the city and interacted with textile traders all day. In every speech, he has hit the government hard on GST problems.
The BJP, though, appears confident of retaining its base after recent changes in the tax system and a meeting between finance minister Arun Jaitley and a delegation of city traders. “Textiles traders have been our strong supporters. They are unhappy over certain issues but those are being sorted out. We are confident they trust BJP than any other party,” said Nirav Shah, local BJP leader and councilor in Surat municipal corporation, who was part of team deputed by the party to hold talks with the textile traders.
Jagnani agrees with Shah but argues that the changes might have been a case of too little, too late. “Sometimes even your own people make mistakes. Then you have to give them a jolt so that they will remember it in the future,” he says.