Strict enforcement of the model code of conduct has diminished business of folk artistes, who are an integral part of campaigning by political parties

Until a few years ago, election seasons were something M. Jayaraman, a tailor at Puthumandapam, counted on for brisk business. “Earlier, I used to earn between Rs.3,000 and Rs.5,000 daily, during elections by stitching political flags and badges. This year, I haven’t received any order so far,” he says.

According to Mr.Jayaraman, his business was reduced to 20 per cent during the 2011 Assembly election due to strict enforcement of model code of conduct.

“I don’t think I can expect any business ahead of this Lok Sabha poll. I have been stitching in Puthumandapam since 1982 and my father did the business before me. This is the first time we don’t have election business,” he adds.

M. Sampath, another tailor, says the tailors at Puthumandapam received orders from parties to stitch at least 100 to 200 flags every day. “Now, we stitch badges and flags only for temple festivals,” he says.

Like the tailors at Puthumandapam, city traders, dealing with sale of party flags and badges are also disappointed as there are no takers for the political publicity materials now.

“We accumulate publicity materials for political campaigning only a few months ahead of elections. Only from the last Assembly election our sale has gone down completely,” says K. Rajagopal, a trader in East Avani Moola Street. However, he maintains that he is unaware of the reason for the tepid sale of publicity materials.

Mithalal is another trader at East Avani Moola Street, who has acquired huge piles of political flags, festoons, car flags, banners and badges. “The code of conduct announced by the Election Commission is definitely good. But they have affected our business,” he says.

According to Mr. Rajagopal, East Avani Moola Street is the hub for sale of publicity materials during elections.

Folk artistes too hit

The code of conduct has not spared the business of folk artistes, who are an integral part of campaigning by political parties.

“This year, none of our artistes, as far as I know, have been invited to perform at political campaigns. During the previous elections, each of us performed in at least three different campaigns on a single day,” says D. Govindaraj, a folk artiste.

These days, a few folk artistes like him have been roped in by the district administration to create awareness among voters, he adds. Adding to the woes of the folk artistes is the timing of the election, which coincides with temple festivals in rural pockets.

Several temples, that had booked the artistes for performing at the festivals, cancelled the programmes following the announcement of the election date, claims Mr.Govindaraj.

“Our business goes on only for five months a year when temple festivals are celebrated. At least 15 temples cancelled our programmes citing the restrictions imposed on the use of loudspeakers. This has only left us in the lurch,” Mr.Govindaraj concludes.

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