It seems that the first round of battle against modern retailers and small traders seems to be won by the latter. And to bear the brunt is India’s largest company, Reliance Industries which is aspiring to become India’s largest retail company through its subsidiary Reliance Retail.
After being forced to close down it stores in UP, Reliance has delayed its plans to open 102 stores and 7 distribution centres in UP and it had also to close down its stores in NCR region of Noida and Ghaziabad.
Reliance Retail has also delayed opening stores West Bengal owing to large scale attacks from traders and political activists. This would deprive West Bengal of Rs.2000 crore investment in145 grocery stores, 6 processing centres, 9 distribution centres and 23 collection centres.
Likewise, Reliance may have to adopt similar strategy in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where it has faced similar protest. Kerala is planning to restrict number of retail outlets by barring it from rural areas and allowed to operate just one or two stores in cities.
But the biggest question still arises as why is Government not allowing businesses to operate even though Constitution gives everyone the right to carry on a legal business.
Another interesting issue which emerges out of the fiasco is as to why only Reliance Retail is being targeted the most everywhere. Maybe because it has the grandest of the retail plans, which would have irked the small businessman.
It would be best advisable in nation’s interest to evolve clarity on this issue and not hurt consumer’s interest in favour of political gains.