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Party shoppers stop with check on budget

Politicians are not the only ones sweating it out in the election season. Artisans specialising in making campaign equipment have been working day and night too. Tasmayee Laha Roy reports.

kolkata Updated: Apr 01, 2011 12:01 IST
Tasmayee Laha Roy

Politicians are not the only ones sweating it out in the election season. Artisans specialising in making campaign equipment have been working day and night too. But the Election Commission's strictures on campaign budget this year have proved a dampener for them.

The artisans complain that the EC's rule of sticking to a strict campaign budget of Rs 16 lakh per constituency has had an impact on their income. Besides a decline in order for election souvenirs, the candidates have also curtailed orders for items such as flexes and festoons with party symbols printed on them.

Pintu Arora, a shopkeeper of AR Traders at Mahatma Gandhi Road, is disheartened with the pathetic sales this year. "We look forward to the poll season to sell election merchandise in bulk. But following EC's strict rules, we are in a soup this year. We have not received any bulk orders. The flags, which cost as low as R5 each, are also being ordered only in hundreds and not in thousands like in previous elections," said Arora.

"We had sold 10 times more during earlier election years," said Vinod Agarwal, proprietor of Gopal Stores at Burrabazar. The shop has a good stock of flags of Trinamool, Congress and the CPI(M) within a price range of R5-R20, depending on the quality.

The saris in Trinamool colours cost around R180 while a pack of 100 badges of various parties are sold between R50 and R100. Agarwal said, "The winds of change has changed the figures in the market as well. From profits ranging in lakhs, we are making meagre to almost no profits. I just hope the sales pick up in the coming month."

The banners that come for Rs 50 to Rs 75, depending on the size, and the umbrellas that range between R250 to R300 are not finding many takers. The flags, however, are cost-effective and are doing well. "We are selling only flags this year because the government has imposed strict restrictions on the use of banners. Flags though, are doing good business, and we keep on buying material for making more and more flags, as the demand is pretty high. Other campaign products are not as popular this year," said Ajay Saha of Joy Kali Paper House.

"I was hoping for a bumper sale. But sales are yet to pick up. I am wondering what to do," said Durga Pal of Pal Stores.