MATHURA/VRINDAVAN: Ambling into the winding lanes of Chowk Bazar in Mathura — the land of Krishna Janmbhoomi — the team of The New Indian reaches the factory where aroma of boiling milk, saffron, cardamom greets with hundreds of halwais squatted before the flames.
In a few hours, as milk turns into khoya, which further becomes a brown mixture, the halwais will turn small balls with Mathura’s signature dish called Peda that will be served across eight outlets of Brijwasi chain. And, from there to rest of Uttar Pradesh, India and even foriegn countries.
That’s how they spread love of Lord Krishna’s fondness for milk. In the middle of their business routine, the New Indian team meets the owners of Mathura’s biggest sweets chain Brijwasi group — owners Rajiv Agrawal and Satish Agrawal.
They readily share their demands with a smile and express contentment on their likes and dislikes of governments to date since Independence days when their ancestors took up the art of peda making.
“See, we always have many demands of the government but it is not necessary that the government can fulfil all those demands. They try but we understand that a government cannot fulfil them completely. We are happy with work done by the government in the area of power supply. We receive a regular supply and that’s what matters today. For a business like ours, we need that 24 hours for refrigeration or transfer,” says Rajiv, who is a graduate in arts from St John’s College from neighbouring Agra district.
He though insists that 1% stamp duty on land purchases introduced by UP government last year is a bit harsh on new businessmen.
His brother Satish turns more emphatic on remembering his early days when he took up charge of business and how control over extortionists and criminals by police during last five years has won hearts of businessmen like him.
“BSP and SP were equally good in the past with their reforms or road projects, connecting us to Delhi via Expresway. But one of the best things that BJP has done is to bring an end to goondaism and threat of extortions and abductions. Any successful government’s big formula is when no corruption no takes place and law and order of state is under control. That’s where I think this government has succeeded,” says Satish.
Satish’s son says that trade has been such a breeze that they have hardly increased their peda rate from Rs 300 in 2017 to Rs 380 in 2022.
“Such is the business prospect whether you look at GST filing or infrastrucutre. We haven’t let any inflation disturb our business. We are actually very satisfied,” says Ravi Agrawal, third generation of Brijwasi Sweets group.
Some halwais who work in similar factories dither on disclosing their preferences. It varies from SP to Congress to BJP for them.
Since 2017, BJP has shared a comfortable relationship with businessmen. It had even given tickets to 13 candidates from the trader community in mayoral elections in 2017 across Aligarh, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Jhansi and Moradabad.
As The New Indian team moves towards the Krishna Janmabhoomi site, a bevy of Peda shops lined up to the Gate No.1 of the iconic temple that hosts birth place brim with fancy similar looking names. They all have Peda in their names.
Asked about election prospects, their first reaction is about the beautification of the shrines, the spend on infrastructure whether on Panch Koshi route around the temple, declaration of Vrindavan and Mathura as pilgrimage site with a ban on liquor or meat in 22 wards of Mathura and up to 10 km range of birth site of Lord Krishna.
“I think only Yogi Ji will come. Of course with such dedication to put thrust on India’s rich culture and bringing spiritualism and divinity. I sell my pedas for Rs 250 to Rs 300 for a kg. People come here and stay in lodges comfortably with access roads at any time of the day and buy pedas for their homes, whichever part of UP or India they come from,” says Anil Yadav, a peda seller.
There are young men who are happily inheriting their ancestors peda craft in the wake of growing trade and ease of business.
“This will be my first time voting. My family has been running this business for long and they have voted for previous parties. What I am impressed is with the security of women and people at large that has instilled confidence in the present government.
“You can see they are making it the whole way. New marble is being installed. Since Yogi has come into power, janmashtami is celebrated in a huge festival. Whole Mathura is decorated. This has never happened before. SP gave tickets in jail this time,” says Nitesh, a student who lives on the temple street.