Tradition Logging Out of Sadar Bazar
By Sumit Kumar Singh - NEW DELHI
Published: 23rd Mar 2014 08:32:27 AM
Posters are passé, social networking is in. With guidelines for campaigning don’ts firmly in place, poll paraphernalia traders in Delhi’s Sadar Bazar are amping up their game, but seem to be losing ground to the power of the online.
Trying desperately to keep, the traders have gone innovative. So there are Modi room fresheners for uncorrupted air, NaMo tea mugs that add that flavour of political loyalty to your morning tea. For supporters of the Grand Old Party, there are the Gandhi family 3-D fans that display the son’s smiling face with one flick and the stern matriarch with another.
A small room in Old Delhi’s wholesale market is abuzz with activity. There is hardly any space to stand inside as the room is packed with some 50 types of election campaign paraphernalia. From the hand fans to bangles, the new age campaign materials are neatly stacked next to the traditional flags, 3-D calendars, stickers, bike and car flags.
Busy attending calls and taking orders from political parties are Anil Gupta and his son Shaurab Gupta of Anil Bhai Rakhi Wale.
Anil Gupta, who has been in this business for the last 35 years, is among the 200-odd people in Sadar Bazar who sell election campaign materials. A decade ago, the campaign material market was estimated to be worth over `100 crore. This year, most traders say it has shrunk by 50 per cent. "After 2004, there has been a drastic decrease in demand. The trade is slipping to the point of no recovery," rues Gupta.
The slump is due to two reasons, traders say. First, politicians are spending more on campaigning on social networking sites rather than physical campaigning materials. Second, the Election Commission’s strict guidelines have restricted the kind of materials that can now be sold.
Posters, banners, festoons with party symbols that earlier formed a huge part of sales are now banned. ‘‘The ban on tools of campaigning has hit this industry hugely,’’ says Mohammad Sikandar, a manufacturer.
These factors may have knocked a little sheen off the lucrative trade but the market remains the go-to place for buying all sorts of campaigning material. The traders get orders from almost every political party in India, be it DMK in Tamil Nadu or National Conference from J&K. Material with Modi’s picture is most popular among buyers. Paper masks of Rahul Gandhi are also in demand.
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