Sale of party flags, banners slow; vendors blame it on rise of TV

As the Lok Sabha elections draw closer, the sale of poll-related paraphernalia is yet to pick up pace in Old Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar.

“Look at the huge stock of election promotion materials that we have got. But since the past three days, we have not had one customer at our shop,” said Rajkumar, a salesperson, pointing towards the heap of posters and banners of political parties.

Though business is “not as usual” in Sadar Bazar, the political buzz could be felt at some major shops in the market.

Sporting a “lotus” badge, shopkeeper Shamshad complained, “The electronic media has eaten up our sale. Why would parties invest as heavily in promotion materials when they can bank on the TV channels for extensive coverage?”

“However, the sale of posters, caps, pens, varieties of badges and mufflers is steady,” he added, noting down an order of 250 “Modi pens” and 500 “Modi for PM” caps. “The demand for promotion materials of the Congress and BJP are almost the same so far. The Aam Aadmi Party caps are also  popular,” he added.  

Mahendra, another shopkeeper, blamed the “strict guidelines” of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct for the dip in sale. “Though the sale of caps, pens and mufflers is still high, flags and banners of political parties are not in demand anymore.

This has also taken away the livelihood of so many people in jhuggi, who relied on stitching flags and banners during the elections for a living,” he said. “A chunk of the electoral promotional items is, however, being sent to other states from which we are earning revenue decently.”

While t-shirts sporting Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati are in demand, the suppliers have been more innovative in designing their products.  

“We decided to ideate intelligently this time to attract youth. The latest additions are cheer sticks, laser-light pens, 3-D pocket calendars, 3-D hand fans and silicon bands of almost all political parties. All these products are made-in-China,” said Saurabh Gupta. 

His father popularly known as “Anil Bhai Rakhi Wala” in the market area is the largest supplier of poll-related paraphernalia from Sadar Bazar. “Bring as many caps of TDP (Telugu Desam Party), Shiv Sena and NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) as possible from the godown,” said  Anil Gupta to an employee over the phone.

Agreeing that business has been hit, he said, “Campaigning has shifted to the social media platform. Whatsapp and Facebook are more campaign-friendly now than the traditional means of flags, banners and hoardings, which have to be used conservatively. This is the primary reason why we had to fish out new items for sale.”

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