Modi disappoints Bhagalpur's weavers

Bhagalpur (Bihar)


Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have impressed many who thronged his election rally here on Tuesday but weavers are a disappointed lot.

Many of the thousands of weavers in Bhagalpur, known as a silk city, expected the prime minister to announce a package for them. That never happened.

"We expected some announcement by Modi for the revival of the silk industry. But Modi disappointed us," said Rahmat Ansari, a weaver in his early 40s. Bhagalpur is around 200 km from Patna.

Another weaver, Mohd Sajjad, said: "We carefully listened to the prime minister. What pained me was that Modi did not say anything about the silk industry, which is facing its worst crisis."

Rahmat Ansari and Sajjad were hoping that Modi would make some announcement that would help revive this once bustling handloom silk manufacturing centre.

"I am fed up with politicians including Modi. They only need our votes and forget us and our problems later," added Mahesh Kumar Sharma, another weaver.

Alim Ansari, a member of the Bihar Bunkar Kalyan Samiti, wondered how Modi could talk about Bihar's development in Bhagalpur without touching upon the silk industry.

He said the weavers faced many problems including shortage of silk yarn and lack of working capital due to lack of marketing support.

"Bank officials are not helping to facilitate financial assistance. There is no support to market our produce. How can we survive without basic help?" Alim Ansari asked.

Successive state and central governments had promised to set up a silk yarn bank in Bhagalpur. The promise remains on paper.

Sajjad said an acute shortage of silk yarn had forced the weavers to go for smuggled Chinese yarn.

Modi's Bhagalpur rally was probably his last before the Bihar assembly election dates are announced by the Election Commission.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Modi had pledged to help weavers in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

"But he left us in the lurch," Sajjad said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party's Muslim face and former union minister Shahnawaz Hussain, who oversaw Modi's Bhagalpur rally, was defeated here during the Lok Sabha polls.

Hussain had won from the Bhagalpur seat in 2009 and in a 2006 by-election.

Bhagalpur is home to more than 200,000 weavers. With the industry in crisis, many have migrated outside Bihar in serach of livelihood. - IANS