The Narendra Modi-Mamata Banerjee rivalry has taken a new twist. From political platforms it has now moved to wrists, literally.
There has been a surge in demand for rakhis featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
A large number of rakhi manufacturers are based in West Bengal and orders for Modi rakhis have been flooding makers for the past four months.
The demand for Narendra Modi rakhis with prime minister's photo and in some cases along with the party symbol of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has doubled this year.
However, the craze for Didi rakhi too is on the rise with several varieties on the shelves ranging from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) symbol to didikebolo.com (an anti-corruption campaign launched by TMC recently) to ones with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's pictures.
The sale of both Modi and Mamata rakhis have run into crores. But there is a slight difference. While Mamata Banerjee rakhis are limited to Bengal, Narendra Modi rakhis are in demand across the country.
Pramod Singh, owner of the Shivam Rakhi said, "Didi rakhis are only for Bengal while Modi rakhis are sold all over India. The orders are double for Modi rakhis this year than last year. There is also a huge demand for August 15-themed rakhis this time."
There are around 35 major rakhi manufacturers in the country with some in Gujarat and the rest in West Bengal. The prices of raw materials have increased and so have the prices of rakhis.
Bidhu Devnath, a Didi fan said, "There is a high demand for Didi rakhis, more than Modi rakhis. This time there is a huge increase in the sale of rakhis."
However, Rajesh Kumar, a Modi fan, had a different take: "This time we are going to buy Modi rakhi because Modiji is doing a good job for our nation and we are proud of him."
Interestingly there are also Jai Shri Ram bracelets in the market. Jai Shri Ram slogan has been a hot-button topic in West Bengal in recent times. BJP supporters chant the slogan knowing that it irks Mamata Banerjee.
Prerna Shaw, busy buying rakhi for her brother, said: "This time I am going to buy a Jai Shri Ram rakhi for my brother."
Another rakhi shopper Meenu Shaw said, "This time I am going to tie a Modi rakhi on my brother because he [Modi] is a good person and he is doing a good job for the nation."
This year coincidentally both Raksha Bandhan and Independence Day are being celebrated on the same day. This has resulted in tricolour-themed rakhis are also selling very well.
Being in the handicraft sector, rakhi is more of an unorganised activity with households making rakhis for months to meet the demand of the multi-crore rakhi industry in the country.