Surat textile industry sees spurt in demand for caps, flags ahead assembly polls
The assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have turned into money-spinners for weavers in the country’s largest man-made fabric hub of Surat
Alpesh Gondaliya, a power loom weaver at the Hojiwala Estate in Surat’s Sachin GIDC, had to cancel his Diwali trip to Goa because of the high demand for polyester fabric. He has received orders to weave about 10 lakh metres of ultra-polyester fabric—a type of satin fabric used for election material and tricolors– for the upcoming Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.
“This fabric will be used by the textile processing factories to print about 1.5 crore pieces of election campaign merchandise, including caps, scarves and flags for various political parties,” Gondaliya told HT.
The elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have turned into money-spinners for weavers in the country’s largest man-made fabric (MMF) hub of Surat.
Scarves, headgear, and party flags are in high demand for the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, with sales expected to reach between ₹350 and ₹400 crore. In comparison, their sales in 2017 were estimated at ₹200-250 crore.
Ahead of the Diwali festive season, there was a lull in the demand for polyester fabric in the country. Now with the dates for assembly elections declared, there is a big rush in Surat.
The powerloom weavers in Surat have benefited greatly from the three-cornered contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, according to an official in the textile industry.
“We have received orders from the BJP for delivering 30 lakh saffron-coloured headgear, 25 lakh scarves and about 20 lakh flags. The highest orders, about 60-65% of them, are from the BJP,” said Arvind Gadia, an election campaign material provider.
He said that the entry of the AAP has also made a big difference this time.
“The AAP has ordered 5 lakh flags and 15 lakh caps and scarves. The rise in demand is entirely dependent on the number of star campaigners from political parties addressing election rallies in Gujarat. When compared to the 2017 elections, business is overwhelming this time,” he added.
There are many other power loom weavers, like Golwala, who are working tirelessly to meet the deadline for delivering campaign fabric to various political parties.
“In the last fortnight, we have received supply orders of 6 lakh saffron-coloured headgear and 5 lakh scarves from the BJP,” said Sanjay Saraogi, director of the renowned saree company, Laxmipati Sarees.
“From the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi started holding rallies and public gatherings in Gujarat after the BJP’s win in five states including Uttar Pradesh, we have received massive orders for the delivery of scarves and saffron-coloured headgear. The cap or headgear have become an instant hit in Gujarat,” he added.
Saraogi said while creating the headgear, introduced by PM Modi in March 2022, extreme precision is required. The BJP’s central leadership has introduced new caps to all of its legislators and party members.
Power loom weavers claim that polyester fabric is superior to cotton fabric in terms of durability and cost effectiveness for election campaign materials. Most political parties opt for polyester over cotton during election season.
Surat’s MMF sector has a total installed capacity of 60,000 waterjet machines, 6.15 lakh shuttle looms, 20,000 Rapier machines, and 2,500 Airjet machines. The industry weaves about 4 crore metres of fabric per day. The MMF sector in Surat contributes about 45% of the MMF fabric demand in the country and the annual turnover is pegged at ₹60,000 crore.
Ashish Gujarati, president of the Pandesara Weavers Cooperative Society, said, “The lacklustre demand this year meant that the weavers had a relatively slow Diwali season. But the elections have been a boon to the textile industry’s bottom line.”
In preparation for the Independence Day celebrations, PM Modi initiated the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign, both of which required the textile industry in Surat to produce approximately 10 crore tricolours in 30 days. Large textile manufacturers in Surat, such as Laxmipati Sarees and Pratibha Dyeing and Printing Mills, etc., were inundated with orders for the tricolours. The polyester fabric utilised to make the tricolours was estimated to be about 5 crore metres.
“Surat has roughly 380 textile process houses,” said Jitu Vakharia, president of the South Gujarat Textile Processors Association (SGTPA). The daily turnover is estimated to be ₹150 crore. Due to low demand, the process houses were operating at half capacity before the Diwali season. However, the elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have given the sector a significant boost.”
“For the power loom weavers, elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are like Diwali,” said Mayur Golwala, a textile entrepreneur who is producing 10 lakh caps and 5 lakh scarves for the BJP, the Congress, and the AAP. “This Diwali was drab, but the elections have given us fresh hope. The majority of orders have come from the political parties for the Gujarat elections,” he added.