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From Sonia scarf to Modi pen: The Election Bazaar caters to all tastes

Demo ballot boxes are being sold at markets in New Delhi among various other innovative products like bindis, mangalsutras, masks and mobile covers to help political parties add zing to their campaign. PICS INSIDE

india Updated: Apr 05, 2014 15:07 IST
A-shopkeeper-peeps-out-from-behind-merchandise-with-political-symbols-at-his-shop-in-Kolkata-AFP-Photo( )

Demo ballot boxes are being sold at markets in New Delhi among various other innovative products like bindis, mangalsutras, masks and mobile covers to help political parties add zing to their campaign.

These items are being brought out by artisans involved in the business of election-related items following orders by the parties or, in some cases, by the traders themselves.

At Sadar Bazaar, the hub of campaign-related items in the national capital, the artisans have been selling even products like tea pots, laser light pens, watches and scarves featuring symbols of various parties and photos of the leaders.

With its 'Chai Pe Charcha with NaMo' campaign on, the BJP is trying to expand its support base and items such as tea pots having Narendra Modi's photograph are being bought in bulk by the party's campaign teams.

"We have launched a set of innovative products this season to attract customers," said Anil Bhai, a shopkeeper at Sadar Bazaar.

In pictures:Election mania grips India

The innovative items include a demo ballot machine through which candidates in the fray can teach the voters how to cast their votes.

"The candidates can teach first-time voters how to cast their vote in the upcoming elections," said Chamman as he sold a demo ballot box to the supporter of a candidate.

BJP workers wearing party's PM candidate Modi's mask, serve tea in Allahabad. (PTI photo)

He said 3-D pocket calendars, clocks and mobile covers are also getting good response from the various political parties.

"We have introduced different items for these elections like party clocks, watches, pens, scarves, mobile covers, laser -light pens, 3-D pocket calendars, masks, hand bands and 3-D hand fans," said Shamshad, another shopkeeper at Sadar Bazaar.

Traders have studied the campaign strategy of various parties and have accordingly come out with products that may interest them, he added.

"Rahul (Gandhi) represents the face of youth Congress. So, we show his face with the young generation in posters while Modi portrays development, so we make a poster of him with growing infrastructure," said Rehman, an artisan.

To attract women voters, shopkeepers have designed mangalsutras, tea sets and scarves with political parties' slogans or with pictures of political leaders on them.

A worker cleans a cut-out of Rahul Gandhi, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, BJP president Rajnath Singh and BJP's PM nominee Narendra Modi as they are put on display for sale ahead of general elections in Ghaziabad. (Reuters photo)

"One of the new items we have come out with this time is the party specific mangalsutra which signifies that a voter is married to a particular party," Chamman said. "Tea sets and scarves are also popular among women."

Shopkeepers are also selling clocks, watches and mugs with Arvind Kejriwal's photo. Modi's photo featured on laser light pens and Sonia Gandhi's photo has been printed on calendars and scarves.

The most popular items in terms of sales are T-shirts and pens.

"To attract the youth, we have designed T-shirts with faces of Rahul, Modi and Kejriwal," said Chamman.

A number of traders said that the growing use of social media for campaigning has adversely affected their business and that is why they were forced them to come out with innovative ideas.

The Sadar Bazaar market is the largest wholesale market of household items in Delhi and houses around eight to 10 shops, which exclusively sell poll-related material.

The trend of campaigning through social media gained popularity during Delhi elections in 2013 when the Aam Aadmi Party carried out most of its promotion and campaigning through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Trinamool Congress workers making a graffiti ahead of Lok Sabha elections near the residence of party supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in Kolkata. (PTI photo)

"Aam Aadmi Party taught other political parties that you can campaign and win an election through social media. This had a negative effect on our business too as now people rely more on social media," said Shamshad.

According to the sellers, the poll market nowadays is not as robust as it used to be.

"Business at this time used to be very good but now you can look around and see the huge stock of election material we have here with no customers," said an artisan on condition of anonymity.

"There used to be a time when 2,000 artisans used to work but now hardly 10 artisans in my shop are involved in this work," Chamman, said, adding, "most of the artisans have given up designing poll-related items and moved to other professions".

Elections in Delhi would be held for seven Lok Sabha constituencies on April 10 and counting is on May 16.