“Party workers come with bulk demands at the last moment”
With less than a month to go for the elections, Jency Thomas (34) and many others who are part of various organised groups of women tailors have busy times ahead. Unloading a huge consignment of defective streamers, flags, banners and posters at the workplace on Bunder Street, she says, “Unstitched ends, stains and cuts, over embossing of print — we set right everything. I have not had a night of good sleep for two months, but this is one of the few times we get such bulk orders.”
The season promises a lot of hope not only for women like her but also for those who deal in election paraphernalia. Piled up in these stores on Bunder Street are cloth banners, posters. replicas of ‘Kalaignar pens,' calendar cards sporting the images of MGR in various roles, mufflers in red and black, face masks of political leaders and much more. “During the last elections, almost 30 per cent of the orders had arrived; this time with parties still fretting over alliances, things are yet to get stable,” R. Abdur Rehman of Navrang Stores.
Also seen are images of growling tigers and drums. And not to miss the gold brocaded badges with rising suns, caps coloured red and black, banners of red and blue with a star studded in between, apart from key chains, show pieces, and balloons sporting political symbols.
Two-way turn-around caps with symbols of the parties in an alliance and three-dimensional stickers of leaders and their predecessors are the added attractions this year.
Packed into sets of hundreds, the banners and posters are ready to be despatched to smaller towns. “This is only the third lot, there is more to come,” says Bashir Rehman, one of the dealers.
“Instead of paper ‘toranam' we have ones made of thick plastic with images of leaders embossed on them that are multipurpose, resistant to rains and re-usable,” Mr. Rehman adds.
Saris, dhotis and towels sporting party colours would start arriving in a week, and so would cassettes and CDs with songs about the parties, say the dealers.
Manufacturers at various units in Porur and Poonamallee say that the printing of campaign material which began in December is still on. “Over 10,000 rolls of ‘toranam' are rolled out every day, and over a crore of them of each party have already been dispatched to dealers,” says S. Arif, a manufacturer.
These dealers say that regular checks and scrutiny have ensured that no one stocks up a lot of propaganda stuff. “Though business seems to be bad now, we can't take risks. These party workers come with bulk demands and that too, at the last moment. We have to be prepared,” says Mr Rehman, as he arranges firecrackers on shelves. “These would anyway be sold, all party people buy them,” he adds.