Survival fear looms large in weavers' hub Bhadohi

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi holding a chaupal under a tree at a village in Bhadohi district.

The country’s carpet capital, Bhadohi, is itching to give politicians a dust off, and boycott is not too far off some lips.

This once bustling city of weavers in eastern UP’s Sant Ravidas Nagar district goes to polls on February 15.

Electioneering has been low-key so far, an indicator of politicians being aware of voter disenchantment in Bhadohi, declared a general seat for the first time in two decades.

Of India’s annual carpet export of more than Rs4,500 crore, UP’s share is over R2,000 crore and Bhadohi is the leading light.

Bhadohi residents fear their town could fade into obscurity owing to problems that have surfaced due to political apathy. They point to the absence of proper roads, poor electricity and water supply, and overflowing sewers. Locals said the town once attracted migrant workers, but now youngsters are migrating for work.

Dwindling orders from the US and Germany — which accounted for two-thirds of the carpet exports — are compounding weavers’ woes.

In the last decade, around 20 carpet traders have switched profession or migrated. Small handlooms are closing down every month.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s Rs6,234-crore package for weavers has failed to enthuse the community because it does not offer anything to them directly.

Weaver Jalaluddin said, “Everybody in Bhadohi is disenchanted with politicians. We are even planning to boycott voting.” Carpet exporter Jalil Ahmad Ansari said, “We don’t want any help from the state government, but it should at least ensure basic civic amenities.”

The Bhadohi seat went to the Samajwadi Party in 2007.


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