Famous Varanasi saree back in poll lexicon

INDIA bloc candidate Ajay Rai is hoping to cash in on possible consolidation of around 5.5 lakh Muslim, Yadav and Bhumihar votes.
Children donning BJP scarves at a roadside tea shop in Varanasi, PM’s constituency
Children donning BJP scarves at a roadside tea shop in Varanasi, PM’s constituency

VARANASI: The BJP is banking on the infrastructural development in Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, besides the Centre’s welfare schemes and Ram temple, to increase the winning margin of second-time MP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was 4.79 lakh in 2019.

INDIA bloc candidate Ajay Rai is hoping to cash in on possible consolidation of around 5.5 lakh Muslim, Yadav and Bhumihar votes. He is confident of getting the support of around 2.5 lakh Muslim voters not because of their opposition to BJP but also due to the resentment among Banarasi saree weavers and associated big traders.

“After Covid, growth in tourism revived silk products, including saree business, in the city. But the recent 45 days’ payment rule for the MSME sector has hit the industry. Our finished products worth crores have been returned to us by big buyers from major cities, as they are unable to comply with that rule,” said Imran Matin, who represents the third generation of the President awardee master weaver family in Peeli Kothi area of Varanasi. “Also inflated electricity bills of the looms have crippled weaving of sarees. A large population of Muslims have decided to vote for Ajay Rai and not BSP’s Athar Jamal Lari for defeating BJP,” he said.

But another silk industry player, Anupam Agrawal, thinks otherwise. “We agree that the new payment rule has hurt our business interests, but finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has hinted at reconsidering it in the coming budget. It’s not just what our business needs, but what our city and country needs. We’ll not only vote for PM Modi, but also are mobilising support to increase winning margin to continue the growth story in our city.”

Another key issue that may see some people from the BJP-loyalist Kurmi (Patel) OBC caste shifting support to the INDIA candidate is acquisition of farmers’ land for the Transport Nagar project in Mohansarai area. “We’ve been voting for two decades for BJP and PM Modi has been our pride, but if our land is snatched away in the name of development, we will think twice before deciding our choice,” said Lachminiya Patel in Rohania.

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