|Kandasamy has termed PONTEX products as not good|
VOICING THEIR ANGER: Weavers stage road roko near New Bus Stand in Puducherry on Tuesday protesting against Social Welfare Minister M. Kandasamy’s remark.
PUDUCHERRY: A large number of weavers staged a road roko and courted arrest here on Tuesday protesting against Minister for Social Welfare M. Kandasamy’s remark on the quality of products supplied by the Pondicherry State Weavers Co-operative Society (PONTEX).
Describing the protest by the weavers as spontaneous, leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and president of the PONTEX employee’s union, T. Murugan said the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, along with like-minded organisations, would intensify the protest if the Minister failed to tender an apology within a week.
On Mr. Kandasamy’s comment that his remark was based on views expressed by an MLA, he asked him to disclose the name of the legislator.
He flayed the Minister for saying on Monday that the Government would call for quotations from other States for procuring polyester material, such as sarees and lungis for free distribution to people below the poverty line for Deepavali, as the quality of the PONTEX products was not good.
Mr. Murugan also asked Chief Minister N. Rangasamy to clarify weather the Government had taken any decision to procure the materials from outside.
Condemning the Minister for making the “irresponsible” remark, he said the decision to procure the handloom goods for free distribution was passed in the Assembly when Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader R.V Janakiraman was the Chief Minister in 1996. All these years, the Government had been buying these materials from PONTEX only.
The Assembly also passed a resolution, in the wake of sustained struggles by weavers’ unions, to put an end to corruption in the purchase of clothes for free distribution and protect the livelihood of weavers. The decision came against the backdrop of the number of weavers coming down to 5,200 from 16,000 in the last two decades, Mr. Murugan noted.
Dubbing the Minister’s remark “untimely”, he said that weavers attached to PONTEX now kept handloom goods worth Rs.10 crore ready for free distribution.
The Minister’s remark was not only aimed at “insulting” the Chief Minister, who had been holding the portfolio of Cooperation, but it also amounted to committing a breach of privilege, he added.
If the Minister went ahead with the decision to purchase the material from other States, it would adversely affect the prospects of PONTEX, which had an annual turnover of around Rs.20 crore and earned a lot of goodwill among consumers in other parts of the country, as it had outlets in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal, he cautioned.
The Minister’s views in this regard also betrayed the conflict between him and Mr. Rangasamy, he said. “The Minister has come out with this statement at a time when the Chief Minister has been continuing the tradition of helping the weavers to overcome their difficulties,” he added.
It was regrettable that a person belonging to the Congress, which had been regarded as champion of promoting handloom products, was toying with an idea that would badly hit the handlooms sector, Mr. Murugan said.
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