BENGALURU: Politicians, from all political parties, smile down from flex boards and plastic banners across the city. There is even a 2X3 ft flex-board carrying the Mayor Padmavathi's face near a public toilet at the BMTC bus stop in Majestic. The city corporation had sent out a circular banning the use of such boards and banners for advertising. Few have bothered to take them down.
We took a walk through city streets and found the boards and banners on pillars that hold the metro line and flyovers, stretched across BBMP skywalks and pasted on government walls. There are even large, distracting plastic banners that stare down at busy roads. Many of them were to send love and wishes to political leaders, then there were some for religious heads. But not every resident in this neighbourhood is happy to celebrate these leaders.
Vivek Sharma, from KR Puram, says that neither the police nor the BBMP officials "will dare remove these hoardings. The people who are supposed to act against this are on the boards, who will take them down then?" Most of the flex boards around Majestic area are erected by local political groups and fans associations of actors. "Through these flex boards, we show our love and respect for our actors," says Kamlesh M, a fans association member form Movie Land theatre.
"We collect money from fans and put these up... we have been doing this around the theatre for a long time, we don't plan to change now." He wasn't aware of the ban when City Express spoke to him. From a flyover in Bommanahalli hangs a banner with KJ George on it. In SG Palya, Ramalinga Reddy is on a flex board on an electric pole. Both the ministers were not available for comments. Rajeev Gowda, spokesperson for the Indian National Congress, says, "The leaders are answerable. Party members put up posters and flex boards to show their respect and love because these are more affordable."
Gowda adds, "When people go to the BBMP for permission, the officials should tell people not to use such materials." There are a line up of birthday wishes on these boards for K Shivram, a former IAS officer who joined the BJP this October. BJP partymen also take to wishing another leader and his entire family, in Yelahanka Town, with a board hanging from an electric pole. The BJP spokesperson N Ramesh was not available for a comment.
While leaders remain mum and "unavailable", people vent their anger on social media platforms. Anand Mangalam posted one on the Bangalore Traffic Police's Facebook page that banners mounted in the center of a road "right opposite" to the South-end Circle police station were obstructing the smooth flow of traffic. Mangalam posted: "How can the law allow such permission (sic)" Deepa Dumblekar from the Bangalore Eco Team posted: "What about these posters all around the Bommanahalli and Silk Board flyover area? Apart from being plastic based, they are hung precariously on the side of the flyover, likely to cause irreparable damage to life and property if they fall down. And they said flex banners would be banned. When will BBMP start walking the talk?"