GULEDGUDDA (BAGALKOT): Located 23 km from Badami, Guledagudda, a weavers’ town, has found itself in great demand. In the last one week, BJP candidate from Badami, B Sriramulu, has already begun campaigning here and an anti-Siddaramaiah sentiment is gripping this town.
Their anger against the government is justifiable. A decade ago, almost every weaver family here had more than two looms. They would make kana (cloth piece) and dress material in large quantities. But slowly the indifference of successive governments began to hit the craftsmanship of the youths. Every weaver’s home in Guledgudda has at least one person who has migrated to Bengaluru in the recent years. With young men leaving, power looms were either shut or sold. Young professional weavers are now finding working in power looms located west Bengaluru, mainly in Kamakshipalya, Dasarahalli and Peenya, more lucrative than their own set-ups.
When the Siddaramaiah government came to power, it announced free power looms for the members of SC/ST and Rs 2 lakh loan to set up power looms for members of Nekar (weavers) community. But most of the SC/ST powerloom beneficiaries sold the looms while professional weavers shut their looms and migrated to Bengaluru unable to repay loans.
Nijagunappa Kolli, a third generation powerloom owner, said, “I have been running looms for the last 60 years. But the neglect of weavers’ demand continues with every government. Many towns in Bagalkot and Vijayapura have powerloom units but there has been no support from the government. Whenever there are elections, parties promise setting up Textile Park in Bagalkot and forget soon after they come to power. On what grounds Siddaramaiah will asks for votes here?”
For a weaver, it costs Rs 36-37 to prepare a piece of kana which is sold for `40. It takes 20 such ‘kana’ pieces to make one saree. With power bills and labour costs rising, the weaving business here seems no more profitable. There are powerlooms and Nekar community settled in towns like Kamatagi, Ilkal, Rabkavi, Ramdurg (Belagavi), Banahatti.
Shankar Lathud, another powerloom owner has been asking the government to use Guledgudda dress materials for college uniforms for girls in Bagalkot and Vijayapura.“But there is no political will to help us. When farmers can get free power supply, why can’t the government provide us free power? Today, we are unable to make more than Rs 5 per cloth piece we prepare. The local MLA B B Chimmanakatti has never turned up here. In fact, he had accused that nobody voted him in Guledgudda in the last elections. I am not sure about the previous election, but this time the weavers will go against the government and may support the BJP candidate. As you approach Guledgudda from Badami, barring a 7 km stretch, the rest 16 km stretch has hundreds of potholes. The town has 24,000 votes of Nekar community and they could influence their tribe spread across North Karnataka.