Local sweet becomes election issue in West Bengal.
Summary: Both TMC and Left parties are claiming credit for obtaining GI tag
Archisman Dinda, Correspondent
Kolkata: A sweet made of jaggery has become a major political issue in the South 24 Parganas of West Bengal as both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist (SUCI) are claiming credit for obtaining geographical indicator (GI) for the product.
Joynagar Moa, as it is known in the state, is an extremely popular snack specially during winters. The GI tag is an internationally recognised mark that prevents the sweet produced elsewhere to be passed off as original.
"It is due to the efforts of our state government that the GI tag was obtained. This was critical for the people of this area as more than 15,000 families depend on the same," said TMC parliamentarian Pratima Mondal.
However, SUCI leaders contradict the same claiming that it was due to their sustained campaign that the GI tag was obtained and the TMC is claiming the credit.
"We have been instrumental in getting the tag. Now TMC is trying to take undue advantage of the same," said a SUCI leader.
The main reason why this sweet has become a major political issue is because more than 15,000 families are directly dependent on it. As many as 250 sweet shops are in the area, which sell the product with more than 7,000 people involved in making puffed rice needed for the sweet.
"Both the parties are trying to take credit as they believe that it will ensure them a win at the polls. However, the fact is that though GI tag is a step forward in the right direction, lot more need to be done to protect the families whose livelihoods depend on the product," said Nayan Moyra, a sweetshop owner.
Residents complain that in spite of the GI tag, the sweet is still made in local shops all over the state and little financial assistance is given to the makers. "There is a need for modern storage facilities, finances and most importantly technology to improve the shelf life of the product. But until now the state government has made promises but has failed to fulfil them," said Jayanta De, another sweetshop owner.
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