GST relief has soothed the mood of small business community in Surat, ruling BJP bound to gain


A day before the 23rd meeting of the GST Council in Guwahati, there was resentment palpable among a larger section of trading community of this city — a business hub of Gujarat.

But by Saturday evening, when the GST Council decided to slash the highest GST bracket by three quarter and leaving only 50 items in the highest 28 per cent slab, there was jubilation in the community.

The Council’s decision to further reduce the compliance burden for businesses through easy procedure for filing returns and an increase in the annual turnover threshold for the composition scheme to Rs 1.5 crore from the recently revised Rs one crore has made the political landscape in this poll-bound state more interesting.

“With latest modifications by GST Council, ‘Surat (this city) has become khoobsurat (beautiful)’. BJP is a clear beneficiary of this move,” says local businessman Mukesh Shah, who runs a luggage shop in Cinema Road locality of the city.

Known as the textile hub of the nation, it is very famous for its cotton mills and Surat Zari Craft. Surat is also a major hub of diamond cutting and polishing.

Naturally when the demonetisation and GST were implemented by the BJP Government, the trading community in the district experienced its pinch leading to business volumes moving down the graph. It also developed resentment against the BJP. But that sentiment seems to be gradually subsiding with government’s subsequent moves.

“It was a big jerk, but now the journey is less troublesome. We want to be a part of the development journey initiated by Modi Government,” says Lallu Shah another textile trader in the city.
Almost similar sentiment was echoed by another youth, Ashish who said ‘one has to be mentally ready to face jerk while moving on a high speed track.’

With stakes so high for the business community here there are only a handful of people who want to go off the track. But polls are still about a month away, the main opponent Congress is trying to put a formidable challenge by forging alliance with many outfits riding on caste and other factors.

Previously known as Suryapur, Surat is the eighth largest city and ninth largest urban agglomeration in India. It is also the fourth fastest growing city of the world in a study conducted by the City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank on urban affairs.

This south Gujarat district, situated on the banks of Tapti River, has 18 assembly constituencies, including five reserved Scheduled Castes / Tribes (SC/STs). In the last polls BJP won 16 of them, the other two were won by the Congress.

The diamond and textile traders, who mostly belong to Patel community, have always supported the BJP. Even though the Patidar agitation had impacted local body polls and civic polls in Surat, the Patel leaders have not yet consolidated their ground here.

Stray incidents of Patels opposing BJP door-to-door campaign in Varachha, Kamrej and Karanj in Surat City areas have been reported this week. What shape will it take in the days to come will be interesting to watch. But for now it is advantage BJP here in Surat district.