Idol-makers of Kumartuli in north Kolkata say elections come and go but political parties are yet to fulfil their promises of improving the working condition at the studios dotting the area of Kumartuli.
"Everytime during election, candidates of various political parties come and make promises, but those promises were never kept. We feel betrayed," Babu Pal, a spokesperson of the Kumartuli Mritshilpi Sanskritik Samity, said.
Their main demand relates to building of proper infrastructure in the idol-makers' colony to build big idols, which is not possible now, according to Pal. "If we are allowed to increase the height of our studios to 18 feet, then we can make big idols and can also avert accidents while drying the clay idols," Pal pointed out.
Basanto, a 50-year-old artist, says the problems would never be addressed as the Kumartuli artists are not considered a vote bank. "We are not big vote banks like other sections of society and that is why no one is bothered about us," he said pessimistically.
According to Pal, Kumartuli presently has about 600 artists. Pal noted that during the final years of the Left regime, the government took several steps to renovate the age-old studios of the artists in Bagbazar nearby. "Several artists even shifted to temporary shelters. But the renovation work is going at a very slow pace. After the change of regime things have almost come to a halt. So those who shifted to temporary shelters are suffering as their business is not doing well there and they can't come back also as their studios have been demolished for renovation work," said pal.
Pal also said that he had written several letters to the chief ministers's office, but those letters have remained unanswered.