BJP promises Rs 1500cr sops for jute to retain vote bank

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Kolkata, Mar 22 (PTI) BJP's election manifesto for West Bengal has promised a Rs 1500 crore package for the ailing jute sector whose workers and farmers are seen as a vote bank for the party.

Some 3 lakh workers mostly Hindi speaking, toil in Bengal's jute mills and are seen as a potential vote bank by the saffron party. The Jute sector also supports some 35 lakh farmers spread over 18 out of 23 major districts.

'We will revamp the jute industry with a SPV (special purpose vehicle) having a corpus of Rs 1500 crore. The amount will be used for financial restructuring of jute mills, modernizing infrastructure of mills, production linked incentives and marketing centers,' the manifesto said.

The manifesto also promises to continue with rules on compulsorily using jute packaging for foodgrains and sugar.

The TMC manifesto on the other hand offers sops for all farmers and not specifically for the jute sector.

After the 2019 Lok Sabha elections analysts said there have been noticeable changes in the politics of these jute growing districts and mill areas. Around 80 percent of the total 40 percent votes received by BJP candidates came from the jute growing and jute mill areas of North Bengal (9 seats) and North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Howrah, Nadia, Jangalmahal and Paschimanchal.

The BJP high command realising the importance of the jute sector, seems to have decided to focus on it. Analysts said this is the first time any party has offered a direct corpus led plan for the ailing sector and expects the saffron party to reap dividends from this announcement. PTI BSM JRC JRC