Ban on physical electioneering for the assembly polls amid a spurt in Covid cases has taken a toll on the shops selling publicity material with people in the business complaining that they are not even able to meet their daily expenses.
The shops equipped with colourful publicity material, dotting the areas adjacent to different political party offices in the state capital, await buyers even though the party offices in the vicinity continue to witness a heavy turnout of leaders and ticket seekers.
The Election Commission has extended the ban till January 31 on physical poll rallies and roadshows ahead of the next month’s assembly elections in five states.
The curb was imposed by the poll panel while announcing the schedule earlier this month on account of a surge in Covid cases in the country.
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”Every day I think it would be a better business but so far it has been very bad. I have three workers employed at the shop and I am not able to meet their expenses under the present conditions,” Raghuraj Pal, owner of an over three-decade-old shop, Raghuraj Pal Enterprises, next to the state BJP headquarters told PTI.
”The sale is not even matching what we were earning before the elections were announced,” he said, adding like others, he too is waiting for January 30 when the Election Commission is to review the situation and take a call on allowing rallies and public meetings which require a large quantity of publicity material.
”We had taken the material worth lakhs of rupees on credit and when we get reminders for payment it becomes difficult to give them a satisfactory reply,” Pal said.
The scene near the main opposition Samajwadi Party office is no different. Anil Saxena of Saxena Bandhu, located in front of the SP office, said there are no takers for the poll campaign material presently with digital campaigning for the elections taking the centre stage.
”I got the material from Delhi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad for the elections. But because of digital campaigning, there are no takers for the traditional means of publicity,” Saxena, whose shop sells poll campaign material only for the Samajwadi Party, said.
Next to Saxena’s shop is Ayushi Enterprises with its proprietor Ayushi Saxena ruing next-to-nil sale of her poll campaign wares, which she also blames on the delay in finalization of candidates.
”We used to wait for elections thinking we will be able to do good business but had never imagined that it would be like this. People are not buying even caps for Rs 30 or stoles,” she said.
Stressing that unmindful of such a scenario, the shop keepers like her had collected huge stock and this is the main worry.
The car stickers with the picture of the candidate were a hot selling item but as the candidates have not been decided, the orders for the same are not coming their way, she said.
Interestingly, Pal, the owner of the poll campaign material shop next to the BJP office, rues that he is stuck in the business of selling wares for the ruling party.
“The BJP being the ruling party, its supporters and leaders are strictly following the EC directives, resulting in no sale at my shop while other shops dealing in the poll material of other parties are doing brisk business,” he claimed.
Ayushi Saxena, however, said it is only the crowd of vehicles that abound the road in front of the Samajwadi Party office but the business of publicity material has remained very dull.