Cover Story Related : Weavers see Hope in Modi
Out of around three lakh Muslims in Banaras, 2.5 lakh are weavers and they are the main target of all political parties. Congress, SP and BSP have been getting their votes in previous polls but disappointed them after the results. That is why they are seriously thinking for a change this time—try Narendra Modi, who turned the handloom industry of Surat into a profitable business. This change of heart is clearly visible in a section of weavers in all three major localities—Bajardiha, Madanpura and Alaipura.It needs no elaboration that the handloom industry of Banaras is dying due to lack of upgradation in technology. On the contrary the weavers in Gujarat are making good progress. “Modi is our last hope. If he too fails the handloom will die here. We are optimistic because Modi mentioned our plight in his speech on April 24,” said Gulzar Ahmed of Bajardiha. Compare to Madanpura and Alaipura, Bajardiha is the most backward weavers colony. However, every person of the locality is directly or indirectly involved in handloom, the physical condition of the colony is very poor—big potholes on road, sewage flowing in the streets. “Even a rickshaw puller avoids coming here. If somehow he agrees, he charges double fare because of these potholes. During the rainy season they just refuse to come here and we have to carry the material on our shoulders,” addes Gulzar Ahmed. But he is happy that weavers’ problems have become major issue in these elections because of Modi. “We can expect something positive from Modi because he has done it in Gujarat,” he says listing better electric supply and technological advancement as immediate things they want.Iqbal Ahmed (30) says, “Is baar man Modi ji par hi ataka hai. Roshan Ali (50) feels powerloom as the biggest threat to handloom. For Mustaq Ahmed (30) the issue is of low wages. Shabana (24) feels compare to labour, theearnings in the profession are very low. Dr Iftikhar Ahmed Javed, who runs a school, Royal Academy, in the locality, says the traders mostly make irregular payment andsometimes it takes more than six months.