The divide in the left rank is now wide open. After the big brother, CPM, has been rapped hard over the knuckles by the uproar following Nandigram fiasco, the smaller partners have come out of the woodwork to make the best of the situation. A recent example is that of Forward Bloc’s apparent refusal of entry to Reliance Retail.
The reason given is the usual concern for the huge number of small retailers who may be affected by Reliance’s entry. It’s not that Reliance is the only ‘culprit’. Other big retailers like RPG Group and Pantaloons are also believed to be planning forays into farm products, not to mention the expected coming of Bharti group in association with Wal-Mart.
Organized retailing has many plus points, and in fact this is going to be the model allover India in coming days. True, small retailers will bear the brunt in the short term, but the supply and delivery chain of organized retailing are so large that they can accommodate many small players. Further, retail sector will unleash big number of jobs not only for top-level managers, but also at grassroots level.
Forward Bloc’s objection is like swimming against the tide, if only for the reason that big retailers like Reliance have already started their ventures in many Indian cities. This reminds one the vehement objection in the 70s by CPM for computerization in nationalized banks, which resulted into undue delay in implementation of the same in Bengal.
Today it is for everyone to see how computerization has brought about sea change in the quality of service by the banks, and has also improved their financial strength.
Divide in the left notwithstanding, or perhaps making use of it, Reliance hasn’t deterred its plans, simply because it cannot afford to. The logic of market economy is so strong that no business interested in retailing can just sit quiet till the differences among left partners are resolved.
Reliance’s intention is very clear when it acquired the rights to make over KMC’s Park Circus market in a tender yesterday by quoting a price of Rs.30.33 crore which is higher by nearly 50% made by the next bidder. It is pressing KMC hard to float one common tender for all city-based KMC markets instead of calling tenders on piecemeal basis.
If KMC agrees to Reliance’s proposal, it will be a big investment in one go, which is not every bidder’s cup of tea.
Whether that happens or not, one thing is quite clear. Mammoth investment in retail sector is surely going to happen, if not today then tomorrow.
Kolkata in any case has a long history of popular bazaars, and many a locale are known by the bazaars that are there for a long time, like Burrabazaar, Shyambazaar, Boubazaar, Jagubabur Bazaar, and so on. Now is the time to cash in on that lineage.