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FRAI Supports Praveen Khandelwal’s Candidature for Lok Sabha Election


FRAI Supports Praveen Khandelwal’s Candidature for Lok Sabha Election


Federation of Retailer Association of India (FRAI), a representative body of about 80 lakh micro, small and medium retailers from across the country with a membership of 42 Retail Associations today organised an event in New Delhi to support the candidature of Shri Praveen Khandelwal in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Shri Praveen Khandelwal is the BJP Candidate for the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha Constituency in New Delhi. He also holds a significant position as the National Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

The lakhs of micro, small and medium retailers constitute a large community of voters and is a significant vote bank. This includes lakhs of small Kirana stores and a vast number of small-time retailers, ranging from vendors setting up their shops near roads and construction sites to those near markets to sustain their livelihoods. FRAI’s support for Shri Praveen Khandelwal will provide a substantial boost to his candidacy. The election for the Chandni Chowk seat of the Lok Sabha is scheduled for 25th May 2024 in Phase 6 of the general elections.

During the event, FRAI highlighted a long-standing issue of inadequate representation of the challenges and aspirations of micro, small and medium retailers in the Indian Parliament. Recognizing this need for a dedicated advocate, BJP’s Shri Praveen Khandelwal has emerged as an ideal person to advocate and champion the interests of these lakhs of retailers on the national stage. Through Shri Praveen Khandelwal’s leadership, FRAI envisions not only legislative support for struggling retailers but also a broader economic empowerment contributing to the nation’s self-sufficiency and business-friendly environment.

Upon receiving overwhelming support from FRAI, Shri Praveen Khandelwal expressed his heartfelt gratitude and said, “I am humbled by the immense love and solidarity shown by FRAI and its thousands of members for endorsing my candidacy and supporting me. This election is not just about securing a seat in the Lok Sabha, it is about being able to make impactful change in the lives of the people that I will represent.”

Our vision is to forge a prosperous ‘Vikshit Bharat’ under the leadership of our esteemed Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, wherein every segment of the society, including retailers and traders, experiences progress and has their concerns addressed. I pledge to wholeheartedly advocate for the interests of my retailer and trader brothers and sisters, a cause I have passionately championed for decades. Once elected, I will be their voice and raise their concerns in the Lok Sabha. I am determined that within one year of being elected I will end inspector raj for all retailers, from micro retailers to traditional large retailers,” Praveen Khandelwal added.

Shri Praveen Khandelwal has already laid out his vision for the Chandni Chowk constituency in his Sankalp Patra 2029 (Vision Document). FRAI in their event appealed to him to continue championing their cause also, citing his longstanding dedication to their concerns over the years.

During the event, Shri Abhay Raj Mishra, National Spokesperson, Federation of Retailers Association of India and Member & National Coordinator, Indian Sellers Collective, said, “I urge all fellow retailers to stand in support of Shri Praveen Khandelwal, who has been tirelessly advocating our interests over the years. We have many issues at hand including the urgent need for a level playing field for small retailers against the dominance of big e-commerce players, the facilitation of ease of business and equitable access to credit among others. Praveen ji has been consistently bringing up these issues in various public platforms.

“We strongly believe that Shri Praveen Khandelwal is the right person to take up our issues in the Lok Sabha. We also believe in Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and are confident that under Praveen ji’s leadership, our community of retailers and traders will become part of this prosperous journey. If our concerns are met there is no doubt that our community will not only thrive but also significantly contribute to the nation’s growth trajectory,” Shri Mishra added.

According to Statista, an overwhelming 95 percent of Indian grocery stores are comprised of Kirana stores or small grocery outlets, underlining their integral role in the nation’s retail landscape. Micro and small retailers rely on selling essential goods like biscuits, soft drinks and mineral water to sustain their livelihoods. However, their earnings are often meagre, with small retailers barely making enough to support their families. Medium-sized shops may earn around Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 per day, while micro retailers sometimes earn as little as Rs. 200 per day.

Speaking at the event, Shri Gulab Khoda, Joint Secretary, Federation of Retailers Association of India, said, “The coming together of thousands of retailers to support the candidacy of Shri Praveen Khandelwal is a huge step forward for all of us. Our issues will now be further highlighted in the highest public platform of our democracy, the Lok Sabha. Shri Praveen Khandelwal has been a true advocate of our issues and I request all retailers, shopkeepers and traders, big or small to come out in support of him and ensure that he wins by a big margin in the upcoming elections.”

“As retailers, we also need to highlight issues like illicit trade, with a large number of smuggled and counterfeit goods being sold on various platforms. With limited or no checks on such products, consumers are at risk of buying substandard items. It is crucial to address this to maintain people’s trust in small retailers,” Shri Khoda added.

As the Founder and Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), established in 1990 with the motto, ” Small Business is Big Business,” Shri Praveen Khandelwal has long championed the interests of small and micro retailers. FRAI’s mission aligns perfectly with Shri Praveen Khandelwal’s advocacy, aiming to secure a dignified life for millions of impoverished shopkeepers while safeguarding their livelihoods. Renowned as a staunch advocate for the unincorporated sector of India, Shri Praveen Khandelwal has dedicated himself to addressing the various issues faced by traders and small, micro, and medium retailers. Among the issues and initiatives he has championed, some of the notable ones are:

  • Level Playing Field versus E-Commerce Giants: Praveen Khandelwal has emerged as a steadfast advocate for the welfare of small shopkeepers and mom-and-pop stores, consistently working for their interests. His advocacy is rooted in the pursuit of a level playing field, where small retailers are not disadvantaged vis-à-vis e-commerce giants. He has been asserting that e-commerce platforms must adhere to national laws, ensuring fair competition and preventing discriminatory practices against small retailers or physical stores. He also has consistently advocated for the establishment of a dedicated regulatory authority to oversee e-commerce operations, similar to the share market and telecom sector. He also has been instrumental in driving forward a national e-commerce policy, which is now nearing its finalization.
  • FDI in Retail: Khandelwal Ji has been a staunch advocate for safeguarding Indian Kirana stores, particularly in the face of challenges such as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail that emerged in the early part of the last decade. His proactive stance on this matter was evident during the policy announcement on September 20, 2012, when the union government permitted FDI in multi-brand retail trade. He highlighted that while the government ostensibly restricted FDI to the sale of fresh agricultural produce, the inclusion of grains and pulses in loose (unbranded) forms represented a significant departure from the initial policy framework. This, according to Khandelwal Ji, had posed a direct threat to the business viability of small Kirana stores.

His analysis highlighted the broader implications of the policy shift, highlighting the need for oversight and proactive measures to protect the interests of local retailers against the encroachment of multinational corporations.  He also highlighted cases where big retail companies violated the FDI Policy as they engaged in B2C business in the garb of a B2B model.

  • Curbing Chinese Influence: Shri Praveen Khandelwal has been a vocal advocate for curbing Chinese influence and products, even within domestic festivals like Diwali. While commending the government’s proactive measures in this regard, he has been appealing to traders to uphold the spirit of Hindustani Diwali by liquidating all Chinese stock and prioritizing the sale of products made by Indian artisans and manufacturers such as Miti Diyas, Diwali lights and other festival essentials. By encouraging the selling of Indian-made products he aims to empower Indian artisans and manufacturers while reducing reliance on imported goods and bolstering the local economy. His appeal extends beyond traders to all Indians, imploring them to consciously opt for Indian products during festive seasons and beyond.
  • Modernization and Digitalisation: Shri Praveen Khandelwal has been championing the issue of modernization and digitalisation of retail trade. His initiatives resonate nationally, as evidenced by his collaboration with esteemed institutions such as Master Card, orchestrating campaigns aimed at fostering the widespread adoption and embracement of digital payment systems by traders. Through CAIT’s partnership with META, he has been empowering traders and retailers to harness the potential of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. By leveraging the immense reach and connectivity afforded by these channels, he has enabled retailers, especially small-scale ones to engage with their audience and expand their business. This concerted push towards embracing digital tools has not only augmented the competitiveness and sustainability of small businesses but also has fostered a dynamic ecosystem conducive to growth and innovation.
  • VAT Issues: One of the earlier issues, Shri Praveen Khandelwal had taken up was the VAT issue on behalf of the traders. One of the key issues highlighted by Khandelwal  Ji was the failure of states to have consistencies in VAT rates which had caused losses to traders. Through CAIT, he had proposed setting up of a special working group to remove such VAT disparities.
  • Women’s Empowerment: He has also been a fervent advocate for women’s empowerment. Through CAIT, he has passionately championed the cause of fostering female entrepreneurship by breaking barriers and creating opportunities for women to thrive as entrepreneurs. He has also advocated for the concerns of elderly traders, advocating for the implementation of pension provisions to support them.
  • Paytm Issue: Shri Praveen Khandelwal has consistently demonstrated a proactive approach to safeguarding the interests of shopkeepers and traders, swiftly addressing any potential threats stemming from shifts in the business environment or any issue with any stakeholder. A notable instance of his advocacy occurred during the recent Paytm crisis, precipitated by the Reserve Bank of India’s decision to restrict Paytm Payments Bank from accepting deposits or top-ups, among other transactions. Recognizing the potential impact on the large number of traders and small shopkeepers reliant on Paytm he brought up the issue in the national media. Given that many traders and shopkeepers rely on platforms like Paytm for their financial transactions, Khandelwal emphasized the importance of protecting their capital from being compromised or immobilized in any way.
  • Support During COVID-19: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Khandelwal Ji highlighted the plight of traders and shopkeepers who faced immense challenges despite their efforts to ensure the availability of essential products to the general public. Recognizing their crucial role in maintaining supply chains during unprecedented times, he advocated for government support to alleviate their financial burden. He highlighted various issues such as access to low-interest loans from banks, waiving bank interest during lockdowns, providing assistance for worker salaries and addressing cash liquidity constraints post-lockdown to facilitate business restart.
  • Simplification of GST: Other issues that he has been highlighting in favour of small shopkeepers and traders are a simplification of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to make it more accessible and user-friendly for traders and ensuring timely payment for services or products provided to the government, among others.

FRAI has been working to protect the interests of poor retailers in the country, highlighting issues affecting their livelihood and rendering help to such people who are unable to express their views and concerns. The Federation also brings to the attention of the government, policies that can help promote and protect employment in the unorganized retail sector and create an environment of ease of doing business in India.

FRAI requests its members comprising lakhs of small Kirana stores, small retailers as well as the people of Chandni Chowk constituency to support the candidacy of Shri Praveen Khandelwal. His election to the Lok Sabha will address the longstanding issue of inadequate representation of micro, small and medium retailers in Parliament. Also with his support, the challenges and aspirations of millions of struggling shopkeepers can be effectively voiced, fostering an environment conducive to their livelihoods. FRAI sees Shri Praveen Khandelwal as the ideal advocate to champion the interests of all these retailers at the national level.


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