In the name of greeting residents during the festival season, political and religious groups have virtually occupied every strategic point in the city.
Always desperate to remain in the limelight, politicians are utilizing the freebie (municipal corporation does not charge for political and religious advertisements) to the hilt. ‘Netas’ with folded hands wishing everyone a happy Dussehra and Diwali, can be seen smiling from countless posters and hoardings put up in every nook and corner of the city. In utter violation of Punjab and Haryana High Court directives that hoardings should not be put up at places where they cause diversion to the drivers or pedestrians, huge posters have been displayed in all major traffic crossings. Pictures of corporation mayor Shiv Sood also beam from some of such hoardings.
The race to grab public attention has hot up in the festival season with BJP having an edge over others. Clock Tower Chowk, Session Chowk, Shimla Pahari Chowk, bus stand round about, government college chowk and Dhobi Ghat chowk near corporation office are the most coveted points as these are the busiest. Banners of religious functions also carry photos of politicians and their cronies. By greeting people on all occasions, the politicians try to give an expression of neutrality and ‘respect for all’ approach. The publicity material hung up at busy roads are not only a visual nuisance but also divert drivers’ attention. Although the civic authorities say it is a temporary phenomenon, it is likely to continue till the new year.
MC commissioner Anand Sagar Sharma said that illegal hoardings were being removed by the assigned team “almost daily”. “When the high court observer visited the city to assess the situation of hoardings, our status was very good”, he claimed. When reminded of the seizure of space by political and religious outfits, he avoided direct reply and said that all banners found violating norms would be removed shortly.