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Walmart may face backlash in India; massive protests planned on July 2

Karan Choudhury/New Delhi 28 Jun 18 | 07:07 AM

In a recap of what happened more than a decade ago to global retail giant Walmart Inc. in India, as many as 700,000 traders, workers, farmers and political outfits might take to the streets in a nationwide protest on July 2, against the Walmart-Flipkart deal.

Ever since and even before the deal was announced of Walmart spending over $16 billion for a 77 per cent stake in Flipkart, the road to the takeover of India’s biggest online marketplace has been quite bumpy. While back in Bentonville, Walmart's senior management immediately started feeling the heat of its decision to spend billions on a firm yet to make profits, trade bodies in India started filing one petition after another with almost all relevant agencies in the country.

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Organised by trade body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the protest is likely to draw participation from the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), a number of farmer rights bodies, and smaller trader unions. As many as 1,000 simultaneous protests are planned in which more than 700,000 people are likely to take part, CAIT said.

ALSO READ: Flipkart, investors await CCI approval for Walmart deal

“We demand that the government reject the deal and frame an e-commerce policy and a Regulatory Authority for e-commerce. We are in talks with various other affiliate organisations and on July 2 we will organise massive protests. In every city where protests are held, the district collector will be given a memorandum. In Delhi, we will present a memorandum either to the finance minister or commerce minister," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT.

In the last two months, as many as 25 complaints have been sent to agencies ranging from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Competition Commission of India (CCI), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Income Tax Department as well as with various state agencies by many of these organisations to thwart the deal.

SJM, which claims to have opposed Walmart’s presence in India for more than a decade, said investigations are on not just with the CCI but a number of agencies, and the government should not give a go-ahead to such a controversial deal.

ALSO READ: Walmart kicks off mega bond deal to help finance Flipkart acquisition

“We are giving our full support to the protest. The details of the protest, however, need to be hashed out with CAIT and others. Walmart has no business being in India. E-commerce companies have been circumventing laws of the land, giving out exorbitant discounts, owning inventory, etc. The ED, CCI, I-T department all are investigating Flipkart. On our complaint, the commerce ministry has already written to all departments, including CCI, to investigate the matter and take action. We have always been against Walmart ever since they tried to enter India via foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail," said Ashwani Mahajan, co-convener of the SJM.

Breaking the deal

$16 billion: Size of the Walmart-Flipkart acquisition deal 1,000: Number of protests planned 700,000+: Number of people expected to participate 10-12: Number of organisations said to be involved

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