Elections

A one-stop destination for all election merchandise in Thiruvananthapuram

Election merchandise at Screen Point

Election merchandise at Screen Point   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

Scren Point, better known as ‘kodi kada’, at SS Kovil Road has been busy as usual this election season

Come elections, workers of all political parties in Thiruvananthapuram make a beeline for a small, inconspicuous outlet in Thampanoor. A splash of colours — red, orange, green and white — welcome visitors. Piles of flags, paper and cellulose garlands, buntings, caps, badges, T-shirts, key chains and more are crammed in the small space. LED displays of electoral symbols vie for attention. There are no walls here and all are equal. So, T-shirts with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi sit cheek by jowl on the same shelf and key chains in the shape of the hammer and sickle share the same space as those with images of an orange Hanuman.

For eight years now, Scren Point has been a one-stop place for all election merchandise needed to flag off campaigning during polls. However, ask for Scren Point and not many on the busy street would know of it. But mention ‘kodi kada’ and anyone on SS Kovil Road will point out the shop tucked away in a narrow lane in the bustling heart of the city.

“Locals have named the place thus,” says proprietor Sulaiman S with a sheepish smile. “It was a business decision to start selling election merchandise and since then, we have been keeping ourselves updated on such paraphernalia by travelling all over the country and attending exhibitions on printing,” adds the 52-year-old who began the establishment 25 years ago.

Election merchandise at Screen Point

Election merchandise at Screen Point   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

“During campaigning, workers of political parties would come to us to get their flag screen printed with the party emblem. That was not an easy task, especially when the numbers are large. So, we began sourcing it from other places for them and now we are the ones to go to for any kind of election merchandise,” he elaborates.

All the printed material comes mainly from Surat in Gujarat. Those that require tailoring are usually sourced from Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, a textile hub in the country. The green protocol in force during the election, which proscribes use of flex, plastics and so on, has not made a difference to his sales, he asserts.

Election merchandise at Screen Point

Election merchandise at Screen Point   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

Pointing to bright red caps printed with the hammer and sickle and orange and green caps of the BJP, he says: “Those are made of cellulose and conforms to the green protocol. They come from Palakkad. Similarly, this time around, we have paper badges in different sizes for all the political parties in the fray. No plastics at all. The flags are all cloth and come in many sizes. For us, the party does not matter, it is the merchandise that matters,” he explains.

The smallest flags, which cost around ₹10 are for flying in the bonnet of cars belonging to party sympathisers, while those who wish to wear their political affiliation on their sleeve can opt for badges bearing images of their leaders or election symbols. The rates for the flags varies between ₹10 and ₹200.

Election merchandise at Screen Point

Election merchandise at Screen Point   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

So, what is new this year? “LED displays of political symbols. We have sourced them from a person who makes these in Kottayam. All you have to do is plug it on and it looks eye-catching,” he explains, plugging in three electoral symbols. Soon, the shop is aglow in the lights of a red hammer and sickle, an orange lotus and a white palm.

“Since we are in this line of business, whenever we see something interesting, we immediately buy it or source it from somewhere,” chips in 19-year-old Rayan Mohammed, Sulaiman’s son, who helps him in the shop on his holidays. A branch of the outlet at Payikkada in Kollam is run by Sulaiman’s brother-in-law, M Zulfikar.

They say the run-up to the elections is their peak period and so, at present, the shop functions on Sundays as well.

How is the scene this year? “As usual,” is his wary reply. “But Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad seems to have come as a shot in the arm for the Congress. There has been a fresh burst of activities,” he says.

“We stock political merchandise all through the year but, obviously, it is during an election that all parties come here for merchandise,” he says with a smile. Time to put the flags out!

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 1:30:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/scren-point-in-thiruvananthapuram-better-known-as-kodi-kada-is-a-one-stop-place-in-the-city-for-all-election-merchandise/article26746124.ece

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