Khadi fails to bloom in times of election

It is election time and political leaders should be making a beeline to khadi shops to put their presentable best before the electorate.

Written by Tanvir A Siddiqui | Ahmedabad | Published:March 26, 2009 12:55 am

It is election time and political leaders should be making a beeline to khadi shops to put their presentable best before the electorate. But in reality,this is not the case,leaving the outlets wonder where and what has gone wrong.

“No politician of any party has so far approached our showrooms,even as this is an election season and not much time is left before they launch their campaign. They may start coming in the next month,” said Jayantibhai Shah,managing trustee of Khadi Mandir,a khadi outlet chain.

The likes of Chief Minister Narendra Modi,Assembly Speaker Ashok Bhatt and former Congress Minister Arvind Sanghvi are regular customers of this chain.

Contrary to the general perception that khadi sales have picked up in recent times,statistics suggest a steady decline in the sales graph. It,however,should not be concluded that the prevailing global economic meltdown has hit the sale,as the fall has been drastic over the recent past.

The scene is so gloomy that the ongoing khadi exhibition (March 17-31) at Surat has failed to draw much buyers this time,Shah said.

“We have not sent our sales team to Surat because it is not viable for us if the sales do not touch a minimum Rs 10-lakh mark in such exhibitions,which we do not hope to get in the current situation,” he said.

The fall in footfalls at khadi outlets has made the situation so grim that on some days not a single sale transaction takes place,he added. According to him,the unusually high sale in 1997-98 was due to the patriotic fervour caused by the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Independence.

The discount season (October 2-March 31) is nearing the end,but there is no decision yet on whether the rebate will be extended or not. Thus,uncertainty looms over the matter. Shah feels a consistent policy on rebate be formulated instead of taking policy decisions on yearly basis if the khadi movement has to survive.

Shankarbhai Patel of Khadi Sarita,another outlet which is hot favourite among khadi buffs,confirmed that no politician or party worker had visited the shops.

The clientele at Khadi Sarita include the likes of Bharat Pandya,Arvind Sanghvi,former union minister Dr A K Patel and BJP election campaign manager Kaushik Patel.

Patel,however,is not worried about expiry of the rebate deadline of March 31. “Those who wear khadi in routine buy it anyways,no matter if the discount period is there or not,” he said.

The prices range between Rs 100 a metre to Rs 1,500 a metre. Mostly,they buy khadi at around Rs 200 a metre,he said.

Ketan Doshi,manager of Khadi Mandir on Gandhi Road,is hopeful of getting clients next month.

The sales have dipped from Rs 80,000 a month in March 2008 to Rs 18,000 this month. And at times,even buyers for other allied products do not come,according to experts associated with khadi marketing.

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