Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday joined the protesting jewellers who are demanding withdrawal of excise duty on jewellery.

rahul gandhi jewellers
(Image: ANI/Twitter)

The representatives of jewellers associations from across the country have been holding a protest at Jantar Mantar against the excise duty imposed in the Union Budget 2016-17.

Speaking at the protest Rahul said, “Not here to make speeches. I feel your pain, I stand with you.”

He also took a dig at the Modi government in his speech, he said, “When Modiji released Make in India logo, I wondered why was it ‘babbar sher’ and not ‘Charkha’ which was Mahatma Gandhiji’s idea for Make in India. Later, I realised the reason for ‘babbar sher’ logo as Make in India initiative was meant to help industrialists and corporates not poor.”

Rahul also had earlier met with the jewellers on March 11.

Jewellers and bullion traders in several parts of the country, including Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, have kept down shutters for over a month now.

Vice-president of the All India Sarafa Association Surinder Kumar Jain said the industry has been losing business due to ongoing indefinite strike, and workers including artisans involved in the trade have the “crisis of bread and butter now”.

Jewellery manufacturers are likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand rollback of the budgetary proposal.

“We have a meeting with the Prime Minister on Wednesday. The time is yet to be finalised,” said Rahul Gupta, CEO of PP Jewellers.

Gupta is also the Vice-Chairman of Export Promotion Council for EoUs and SEZs.

The Centre has already constituted a panel under former chief economic advisor Ashok Lahiri to look into the demands of jewellers.

The sub-committee, which has been asked to submit its report in 60 days, will look into issues related to the compliance procedure for the excise duty, including records to be maintained, forms to be filled, operating procedures and other relevant aspects.

The government, in the Budget for 2016-17, had proposed one per cent excise duty on jewellery without input credit or 12.5 per cent with input tax credit on jewellery excluding silver other than those studded with diamonds and precious stones.