Modi's Gujarat Loom Jammed in Varanasi - The New Indian Express

Modi's Gujarat Loom Jammed in Varanasi

Published: 29th April 2014 08:19 AM

Last Updated: 29th April 2014 08:19 AM

The long-forgotten weavers of this ancient holy city are knitting dreams of a better future, thanks to “River”, “Sewer” and “Weaver” emerging as prominent high-pitched campaign themes in the electoral battle that has attracted global attention. 

The weaver community, whose survival has been made difficult due to corrupt middlemen, is happy to qualify as a votebank, hoping that like the yarns they spin n-number of times for a final product, bright days, though distant, are lurking ahead. Of the three lakh Muslim voters in this constituency, approximately 2.25 lakh are traditional weavers, living marginalised lives.

BJP strategists, aware of famous Banarasi Sari’s stiff competition with Gujarat industries, are pitching for ‘Kashi’s industrial revolution’ to woo the sizeable votebank, knowing that it would draw attention due to what they believe to be Narendra Modi’s effective publicity about them. But, Idrees Ahmad, leader of “Bunkar Biradarana Tanjeem” raises questions about Modi’s intention.

“Banaras is known for pure work and Surat is notorious for duplicate saris. If Modi starts branding Banarasi Sari, his Surat industry will collapse. Will he take this chance? In my opinion, he will not burn his own house and try to offer us lollypop because our voting pattern may affect election outcome,” Ahmad said. 

Although families working on ramshackle wooden looms, crammed into the front living space of their homes, are tight-lipped about the choice of candidate, the young workers hanging freshly dyed yarn outside wants an open market rather than tall promises of global branding.

“Skills of the Banarasi Sari weavers who migrated to Surat is not utilised by the industry. They are doing menial jobs. We, as a ‘Tanjeem’, are not at all inspired by Surat Model. We earn hardly Rs 2000 for a sari sold for Rs 30,000. If there is an open market, we may see revival of our community,” a weaver named Bashir, said.

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