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Despite poll season, printing presses go silent

There is hardly any business for printing presses as political parties shy away from printing publicity material due to cash crunch

lucknow Updated: Jan 12, 2017 13:03 IST
Oliver Fredrick
Printing work being carried out at Swastik Printing Press in Lucknow
Printing work being carried out at Swastik Printing Press in Lucknow(Deepak Gupta/ HT Photo)

From the turmoil of pre-Independence era to the first UP assembly election in 1951, Tanveer Printers – one of the oldest printing presses operating in Lucknow – has seen it all.

Though the printing press has braved the vagary of time for decades, demonetisation has dealt a severe blow to the unit bringing it on the verge of closure.

Proprietor of Tanveer Printers, Haroon Nomani, terms demonetisation as the last nail in the coffin of printing presses which are already tottering to their fall in the age of e-books and Kindle.

“Be it Uttar Pradesh or any other part of the country, election season always ensures good business for printing presses. But this time, ‘notebandi’ has pushed printing presses into oblivion. Printers in Uttar Pradesh are the worst hit,” laments Nomani.

Haroon Nomani, owner of Tanveer Press in Lucknow. (HT Photo)

“This is for the first time in the 84-year history of Tanveer Printers that machines have fallen silent in election season. I still remember the glorious past of this unit when we used to be overworked during election,” he recalls.

“We hired at least 10 small printing presses to meet the order,” he says.

Nomani adds that printing work for election generally starts pouring in about three months in advance.

“It includes orders of posters, banners, calendars, badges, cards and other canvassing material. During assembly election in 2012, the situation was no different as our machines worked round-the-clock to meet the demand,” he says.

“But there is hardly any business this time around. We also contacted a few political parties but their leaders say they are facing cash crunch. UP election is hardly a month away. Despite it being the peak season, there is no business for us,” he adds.

Owners of other printing press echo the same sentiment.

“There are many units in the state which have installed new printing machines. The latest imported machines from Czechoslovakia cost about Rs 4 crore. Owners of many units are facing bankruptcy due to shortage of printing order,” says Jawahar Lal Bhargava, president of Lucknow Printers’ Association.

Election season brings good business for printing presses but demonetisation has hit them hard this time. (HT Photo)

Bhargava owns Swastik Printers which is the refurbished version of the Oudh Printing Press, established in 1927.

He says besides note ban, the ongoing feud in the Samajwadi Party has also made an impact on their business.

“Since SP is the ruling party, many printing presses and agencies prepare publicity material in advance. Many of them are ready with coffee mugs, mufflers, badges and artefacts which bear pictures of SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, along with the party symbol. Uncertainty over the fate of the party and its election symbol has left the agencies in a fix,” Bhargava points out.

Another reason for poor business is the fact that the political parties, except the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), have not declared their candidates so far.

According to Bhargava, the impact is not only on 1,200 printing presses in Lucknow but also on almost all the units in the state where machines are silent in the peak business season.

Read more: ‘Behenji ko aane do’: BSP lines up video series to woo voters ahead of UP polls