Diamond merchants rally behind Narendra Modi

Narendra ModiNarendra Modi

Among the lakhs of people who turned up for Narendra Modi's 'Mahagarjana' rally on Sunday, over 40,000 belonged to the diamond industry -- the traders' community that has been loud and vocal about its support for the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. As Modi spoke against the abolition of octroi and perils of the local body tax (LBT), the trading community dominated by diamond merchants erupted with applause.

Naresh Mehta, secretary of the Bharat Diamond Bourse, said the diamond industry had been going through a critical phase since 2008 following the slowdown of the American economy. In such a scenario, he said, the lack of "proactive steps" from the government had left them disillusioned.

"The industry is in a bad shape. The overheads are increasing and profits are declining. We need some immediate measure which this corrupt and inefficient government is not taking. We are a tax-paying trading community but the government does not give us the respect that we deserve. We think (Narendra) Modi is the only person who has a vision to lift us out of the crisis," said Mehta.

At the rally, Modi said how the Gujarat government had taken the lead to rid the state of octroi. He castigated the Maharashtra government for its "indecisiveness" on abolishing octroi and finally replacing it with LBT.

When Modi attended the Diamond Merchant's Association's 100th anniversary in September, they had presented Modi with 90 kg silver. "This is high time the country saw a leadership change. Businesses can remain healthy only if the economy is growing. We need hard measures, which Modi has shown the willingness to take. There is a Kathiawaadi group among diamond traders who are ardent fans of Modi and his policies," said Mehta.

Also, with most diamond manufacturing units having moved to Surat, the community hopes a proposal to build an international airport in Surat will be considered.

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