Millennium Post

Geographical Indicator tag over Bengal sweetmeat, a bitter poll issue

A celebrated seasonal sweetmeat from the state's South 24 Parganas district has become a bitter political battle in a West Bengal assembly constituency, where polling will be held on Saturday.

Jaynagar calls the shots for being home to a jaggery and puffed rice-based delicacy 'Moa'. 

It won the prestigious Geographical Indicator tag last year which signifies the moa has a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

But the GI tag for "Jaynagarer Moa" has now become a poll issue.

While the ruling Trinamool Congress claims credit for setting the ball rolling to acquire the GI status and protect Bengal's cultural heritage, the Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist is going from village to village saying the tag would upset small businesses in the area which are solely dependent on the dessert produced in November-December.

"It should not be an election issue. The Joynagar Moa Nirmankari Society, which has been recognised as the co-operative that produces the authentic sweetmeat, approached us and then we did the documentation," Pratima Mondal, the local Trinamool Congress MP, said.

Around 250 shops in and around Jaynagar produce the sweetmeat.

But SUCI-C candidate Tarun Naskar, the sitting legislator, is aghast.

"We were against it since we knew it would harm the small businesses. One particular big business wanted the tag for its own gain but small businesses are facing difficulty for the tag now. To protect the heritage sweet, the small producers must also be given credit," he said.

With 210,324 electors, Jaynagar goes to polls on April 30 in the fifth and penultimate phase of the state elections.
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