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Relience chief executive officer Mukesh Ambani was in for a shock on Thursday morning when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati ordered the closure of all Reliance Fresh stores in Lucknow.
The decision coincides with a roll back of the new farm policy that was announced barely 20 days ago on August 3.
Announcing the government's decision at a hurriedly convened press conference in Lucknow on Thursday, Mayawati said, "The opening of Reliance Fresh stores in Lucknow yesterday sparked off trouble at various places, so we have taken a decision to shut these in the larger interest of law and order."
Ten stores of Reliance Fresh were launched in the state capital on Wednesday and had registered record sales as compared to any other part of the country on a single day.
The stores were opened as a consequence of the government's new farm policy that was proudly proclaimed by Mayawati herself as one that would do away with middle-men in the agriculture sector.
While no violence took place at any of the stores, only mild protests by a Samajwadi Party led trader organisation were witnessed outside some of the stores. Neither was any damage caused to any of the stores nor was any one injured in the attempted storming of one of the stores.
The police, however, arrested Samajwadi Party MP Banwari Lal Kanchal, who is also president of Uttar Pradesh Udyog Vyapar Mandal.
She attributed the decision to close down Reliance Fresh stores to "law and order problems." Referring to the protests, the chief minister said, "I have constituted a high level committee to review the whole affair and until the committee gives a green signal, Reliance Fresh stores will remain shut."
Asked about the fate of other malls like Spencer's and Big Bazaar that were already operating on the same lines in different parts of Uttar Pradesh, her principal secretary Shailesh Krishna said, "Such stores located inside bigger malls and selling goods other than just vegetables and fruits, would remain unaffected but the rule would apply to those Spencer's stores that were functioning on the lines of Reliance Fresh."
Mayawati, who on Wednesday hailed the new policy as a "boon for farmers of the state", explained, "earlier I had ordered a survey on the impact of the new farm policy and intelligence reports submitted to me last night revealed that farmers were unhappy with the new policy, so we have decided to withdraw the same with immediate effect."
Interestingly, on completion of her 100 days in office on August 22, Mayawati had prominently listed the new farm policy among her "achievements." She had also described it as a "revolutionary step to save farmers from exploitation by not only middle-men, but also fleecing bankers and corrupt officials."
No one knows what actually transpired overnight to prompt her into taking the extreme step against Mukesh Ambani - led Reliance Industries [Get Quote].
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