iconimg Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Amrita U. Kadam, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, August 16, 2009
With an eye on the upcoming Assembly polls, political parties are capitalising on the swine flu scare to influence voters. Several workers from the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have put up hoardings across the city carrying public messages on H1N1 virus and precautions, albeit with their names painted prominently on the boards.

Citizens have criticised their move to gain political mileage over the epidemic.

“It is ridiculous. If they really wanted to help the public, they should have used the money to provide Tamiflu to hospitals or fumigate public places,” said Anandini Thakoor, chairperson of H/W ward residents’ association in the Bandra-Khar vicinity.

Most of the hoardings carry photos of those who aspire to contest in the Assembly polls. Recalling that the political parties had used similar gimmick after the 26/11 terror attacks, film producer and activist Ashoke Pandit said: “It’s more of an election campaign. If you have to seriously spread awareness what is the need to put up your photos on the hoardings? They had tried out similar stunts during 26/11.”

However, political parties feel that by doing this they are just contributing to the society. “This is just a humanitarian thing to do. We want to spread awareness and don’t want people to panic,” said Krishna Hegde, spokesperson of Mumbai Congress.

The MNS too says it is not to attract voters. “We have put the photos of our party members so that people know where the message is coming from,” said MNS spokesperson Shirish Parkar.

Parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party chose to be out of this publicity stunt.

“One should not politicise this issue. If it is overdone, it will end up triggering unwanted panic,” said Manisha Kayande, district president BJP.