To vote on Monday, they were divided in their choice of candidates over the economic issues.
Walking through the crowded corridors of the 150-year-old Crawford market before Diwali celebrations would have usually been tough. This year it is not. The small bylanes were devoid of people, and there was enough space to move around at a prime market in Mumbai which is set to go polling on Monday.
What may come as a respite for shoppers does not spell the same for business owners. Manish Kadam has a dry fruit shop by the name of M.K. Stores. He started his business around four years back and what would have been a prosperous business for him didn’t pick up. “As soon as I started with my business, demonetisation and GST rolled out. Demand has not picked up since,” he said. He said that he was looking forward to getting to polling on Monday. “I will go and vote on Monday but, I won’t vote for the ruling party,” he added.
Just ahead was the shop confectionery shop of a man who did not wish to be named. He said, “I’m really disillusioned by the ruling party and the opposition parties too. I will vote NOTA.” He said that his business had fallen because people had lost the morale to use cash. His business was down by 50 per cent. “Conversations about small and medium businesses start at this market and end here. Our voices don’t seem to reach where it is most important.”
The sombre voices echoed with most people in business through the corridors. Shabbir Masalwala was the owner of a family-run shop established in 1955. They sold everything from toiletries to groceries in wholesale. He said,“I would support a party that works on policies that lead to actual development. None have done that so far, even the ruling party. So this time, I was thinking of giving my vote for an independent candidate that is not linked to any party.”
While a lot of small business owners were unhappy with the ruling Government, the same sentiment did not echo with a section of business owners. Pravin Mhaske is a part of the fourth generation that runs Mhaske dry fruits which were established in the year 1923. His business is down by 40 per cent, but he has no qualms about voting for a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate. He said, “BJP is working for the good of people. It will help us in the long term, and so I will vote for the BJP.”
“ We have heard about development but, we have not seen it. Anyway, I will vote BJP because they are good for the long term growth of our country,” said Rakesh Sharma, who runs a shop that sells exotic vegetables.
Small and medium business owners will go and vote on Monday. Some of them for the BJP and the rest for different candidates splattered across various parties and backgrounds.