One of West Bengal’s most popular sweets is at the centre of a bitter poll battle in the South 24 Parganas district with rival political parties claiming credit for getting it the prestigious geographical indicator (GI) status.
The ruling Trinamool Congress and the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) both say they were instrumental in getting the GI tag for the Joynagar Moa, a perishable jaggery-based snack.
The GI tag is an internationally recognised mark that prevents things produced elsewhere to be passed off as original. The tag is important for local businessmen struggling to fend off competition from cheaper “duplicates” that hurt the business of around 15,000 families in the area.
“I have tried my best to obtain GI that will protect the snack from imitations. It was a longstanding demand of the Joynagar people to spread the business in the global market,” said Pratima Mondal, the local Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP.
But the Suci (C) contradicts this, saying the Trinamool is usurping credit.
“Our party organised a movement to attract the attention of the concerned authorities,” said Bachhu Bose, a Suci leader of Joynagar.
Suci’s Tarun Naskar, a professor of Jadavpur University, is the incumbent MLA in Joynagar while the Congress has fielded Sujit Patwary in the hope of snatching the seat as the local municipality is under its control.
Biswanath Das is the ruling party candidate but has an uphill task of combating the ire of local businessmen.
“Trinamool did nothing for us. We were promised loans but nothing has materialised. The duplicate moa makers are still in the market,” Rajesh Sasmal, a prominent manufacturer told Hindustan Times.
The GI tag is expected to boost efforts to prolong the shelf life of the Moa from around four days to a month, crucial if the sweet has to be marketed outside the state.