Artisans rue poor sale of cutouts, flags
New Delhi: Social media and strict Election Commission norms seem to have had a direct impact on traditional methods of campaigning in Delhi as artisans making cutouts, billboards and flags are struggling to rake in the moolah this time.
Anees Bhai, an artisan in Sadar Bazar who supplies cutouts, flags and posters to political parties, used to look forward to elections with great hope and expectations, but not this time.
The 62-year-old artisan has been in the business since 1989 general elections but a recent shift towards online campaigning and strict Election Commission rules have made him think twice about venturing into a new profession.
"I used to get orders of 5,000 flags which is now reduced to mere 100 flags," he said while stitching a BJP flag at his home in Sadar Bazar.
Since the Election Commission started putting special emphasis on anti-defacement drive, demands for posters, banners, flags and cutouts have come down drastically.
"Earlier, at least 25 cars used to accompany a candidate in an election rally which is now reduced to five. So, the flags, cutouts, posters and other promotional items used on these cars have come down," Anees said.
Businessmen have cited the Model Code of Conduct and expenditure limits set by EC as some of the reasons for the drop in sales of election publicity items.
"The business has shrunk by 50 percent, I have a family of 13 to support, how do I manage in the current inflationary market... I don`t understand," said another artisan, who did not wish to be named. Perhaps another factor hampering the business of these artisans is the shift of the campaigning towards social media.
"Aam Aadmi Party taught other political parties that you can campaign and win a election through social media. That had a negative effect on our business too as now people rely more on social media," said Shamshad Ali, a shopkeepers at Sadar Bazaar.
The vibrant Sadar Market is the largest wholesale market of household items in Delhi and it has around 8 to 10 shops which exclusively sell poll-related materials.
"Business at this time used to be very good, but now you can look around and see the huge stock of election materials we have here with no customers," said another artisan, who did not wish to be named.
"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," another shopkeeper at the market, Mohd Chamman, said, adding that, "most of the artisans have given up on designing the 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.
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