With polls ahead, it’s win-win for khadi selling family

November 13th, 2008 - 2:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Make hay while the sun shines! And with six states set to hold assembly polls in November-December, things are certainly shining for five men - all from the same extended family - who sell khadi cloth outside several party offices in the capital.”Though I sit here across the year, the sales have increased manifold since the Delhi elections were announced. The number of party workers and leaders visiting the party office also increased,” Mohammad Mustafa, 39, who sells cloth for khadi kurtas on the pavement just outside the Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office at 12, Pandit Pant Marg here, told IANS.

“Earlier, I was selling 5-10 sets of kurta-pyjamas every day. Now I sell at least 30 sets every day. During the polls, sometimes buyers take the material in bulk,” added Mustafa who hails from the Madhubani district of Bihar and has been in the business for more than a decade.

Asked what he thinks of the BJP’s politics, Mustafa said, “I am not concerned about politics, the only thing I am concerned about is my business.”

Kurta-pyjamas made of khadi, or handspun cotton cloth that was popularised by Mahatma Gandhi, are no longer a favourite with Indian politicians as they used to be, but with elections around the corner the material is seeing a surge in sales again.

Besides Mustafa, his son-in-law Abul Kalam also runs a small shop at the Delhi office of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) at Bishamber Das Marg.

“Sales have certainly gone up as I sell nearly 25 sets of khadi kurta-pyjama every day against the average of five sets a day earlier,” said Kalam, who started sitting there eight years ago.

He has been in this business for the last 24 years and earlier used to sit with his father at the Congress headquarters. “I eagerly wait for politicians from Mumbai as they buy khadi cloth in bulk,” Kalam added.

The kurta-pyjama sets are in the range of Rs.500-1,600. The cloth is brought from Bihar from where the family hails. In fact, all the men even provide the option of getting kurtas and pyjamas stitched for the buyer within a couple of days.

Mustafa’s cousin Abdul Malik sits near the Congress headquarters at Akbar Road in New Delhi.

“I have just returned from my village and that is why I lost the chance to sell more. But I have my set clients who take stuff only from me,” said Malik, who has been running a shop there for the last 15 years.

Mustafa’s other son-in-law, Mohammad Shoaib Ansari, who sits on a pavement in the South Avenue area that primarily has the houses of legislators and parliamentarians, mulls over the downward trend of politicians wearing khadi.

“During the lean season, I sell three to four kurta-pyjama sets every day but during elections the number goes up to 15-20. Most of my buyers are leaders who come seeking tickets,” said Ansari.

“Khadi is not so popular now. Politicians now dress up in suits, trousers and shirts,” added Ansari, who has been selling khadi kurtas for nearly two decades.

Ansari’s nephew Amanat Ali Ansari also sits there. He has been running his shop for more than a decade now and lives with his uncle.

As the elections kick off Nov 14, some will lose and some emerge victorious. But for at least this one family, it is a win-win situation all the way!

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