"Yes, we have been reeling under various forms of harassment and atrocities at the hands of officialdom, the most recent one being the Local Body Tax (LBT). We are in the process of launching our own political party to fight elections and improve the system from within," Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) told IANS.
In fact, Shah said that the million-strong trading community in the state had been toying with the idea of an independent political party for several years. The belief was that no one would vote for it so there was little energy in the effort, Shah said.
"Now the AAP has proved in Delhi that people looking for a change will also change their preferences and vote for a new party which takes up issues that directly matter to the masses," Shah said.
Citing some of these challenges, he said that octroi and LBT must be abolished in the state to root out massive corruption, the high electricity charges in the state, acute housing problem, insufficient water supply, besides other issues that affect the common people.
While on the one hand politicians support the non-tax paying encroachers and slum-dwellers, on the other they pursue housing policies that keep affordable housing beyond the reach of the masses, especially in metros like Mumbai, Shah said.
He claimed that to begin with, the proposed AVP would boast of a staggering ten million plus membership, including the million traders, their families and their support staff, as also others sympathetic to their cause.
"We are tired of bribing the officials and yet not getting work done. People don't know that to do any business in Maharashtra there are 35 different types of licenses plus several types of taxes instead of a single-window operation. Besides, there is the harassment and demands from civic officials, police and local goons that make any trade or business difficult," Shah said.
He said AVP would work to implement a "single-window system" for doing any type of business in the state and to end the corruption in various departments.
"We hope to be ready with a registered political party within a month or so," Shah added.
--IANS (Posted on 13-12-2013)