Kendrapara, March 27(LocalWire): The ruling party has garnered a formidable electoral base in the rural pockets of Kendrapara district by providing rice at one rupee and money to farmers under the KALIA scheme and also other developmental works, but one of its staunchest support groups – the weaver community – are unhappy and feel the BJD has ignored them.
Kaudiabarai, Ramachandrapur, Samsara, Jaganthpur , Pohana, Odishabindha, Dihasahi , Gaudia , Kusiapala and other villages under Garadapur and Marsaghai blocks in the district, where about 50,000 weavers’ votes count, it will be difficult for the BJD to weave in their votes and could make a difference in the outcome of Kendrapara, Patkura and Mahakalapada Assembly seats.
The slipshod attitude of the government, advent of power loom and other advanced machinery and the competitive market has silenced many handlooms plunging the weavers to poverty.
‘Five years back, BJD leaders had promised us financial help to modernise our old looms.
But they failed to keep their promise and now when the voting rights is in our hands, we, in turn will teach the ruling party a lesson,’ said Sangram Sahoo, a weaver from Pohana village.
‘The state government has failed miserably to mitigate the plight of weavers. As a result, large numbers of weavers and their family will vote for the Congress,’ said Chinmaya Beura, the district unit president of the Congress. But Dhiren Sahoo, a senior BJD leader and former chairman of Kendrapara municipality countered Beura and said ‘The state government provided funds to weavers to build work sheds and the weavers will support BJD in the rural poll,’
The government formulated many schemes to mitigate the sorry state of weavers. These schemes provide for the funding of looms and accessories, the upgrading of weavers’ skills, a health insurance policy and an integrated handloom cluster scheme for the ‘holistic’ development of the weavers after many were forced to forsake their craft since they were unable to support their families financially.
‘Many prosperous villages were liberalised about two decades back. But since the small scale loom sector was unorganised, they neglected education, modernisation and progressive business practices and the outcome was inevitable.
The closure of Baladevjew power loom at Kendrapara 20 years back added to the woes of the weavers as many lost their jobs,’ said Prakash Sahoo, a weaver from Kusiapala.