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Walmart’s Flipkart Deal Sparks Protests Across India

Hundreds of traders in India staged a protest in dozens of cities across the country on Monday against Walmart Inc.’s planned $16 billion deal with e-commerce firm, Flipkart. Walmart bought a 77% stake in the company earlier this year. But shopkeepers fear that Walmart’s acquisition of the retail company could drive local mom-and-pop shops out of business, Reuters reports.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) hoped to mobilize one million local traders in a nationwide protest on Monday, though the actual numbers fell short. However, 50 traders and shopkeepers held a sit-in in Delhi, holding signs that read, “Walmart Go Back,” and other actions drew hundreds of people to protests in other cities, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.

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India’s traders are protesting against Walmart’s takeover of Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart.Saumya Khandelwal—Reuters
Saumya Khandelwal—Reuters

Not everyone is getting a bad deal out of the acquisition. In May, Fortune reported that the $16 billion deal would create two new billionaires. Flipkart co-founders Binny and Sachin Bansal (who are not related) were each expected to gain $1 billion from the deal. But workers across the country want Walmart out and are demanding that the Indian government block the deal, which awaits government approval.

“This deal is going against the interest of small traders,” the national general secretary for CAIT, Praveen Khandelwal, told CNN Money. Khandelwal added, “We want the government to stop this deal, and formulate an e-commerce policy and a regulatory authority,” suggesting that Walmart will use “predatory pricing” that could create a monopoly in the retail market.

According to Quartz, 90% of India’s retail trade currently happens through local mom-and-pop stores that fear the market will no longer favor them if the deal goes through. “Today it is Walmart and tomorrow it may be Amazon or Alibaba who can follow this path with the result that retail trade will restrict to few hands,” CAIT said in a statement.

Workers aren’t backing down, despite analysts suggesting their fears are misguided. Satinder Wadhwa, a 55-year-old shop owner in New Delhi feared that competing with a Walmart-backed Flipkart would negatively impact his business.

“If they [Walmart] come and start a price war, who will buy from us?,” Wadhwa said at a protest, according to CNN Money. “They are luring people with additional benefits the trader cannot give.”