Poll campaign stuff on sale here

Stores are flooded with T-shirts, caps, badges and key chains emblazoned with insignia of political parties
Last Updated 18 March 2019, 04:50 IST

As the carnival of democracy comes nearer, political parties are trying to woo voters in whatever way they can. In line with this, a range of innovative poll-related merchandise has hit the shops in the city.

Stores in places like RV Road and Binny Mill Road in Cottonpet are overflowing with flags, caps, T-shirts, shawls, key chains and badges with symbols of the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and JD (S) emblazoned on them.

Devaraju, an employee of Ravi Group based in Cottonpet which has been in this business for 15 years, says, “Besides flags, shawls, T-shirts and caps, there are masks of popular leaders, prominent among them Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.” The materials are priced anywhere between Rs 7 and Rs 150 a piece.

“We have kept the prices minimum for higher sales. We have also refrained from using plastic this year; everything is made from cloth,” adds Devaraju.

Rushabh Enterprises on R V Road has been around for over 40 years. It is now being run by Anil Jain, who is the third generation family member in the business.

“We have been selling and supplying election material in Bengaluru and other states for many years now,” Anil tells Metrolife.

This store sells key chains, badges and masks made of rubber and paper. “The rubber masks take longer to make because of the moulding process. We have only ‘Modi’ rubber masks because he is a popular figure and we are sure that these will sell. They are priced at Rs 50 onwards,” Anil says.

The products are sent to other parts of the country, depending on the demand.

Delhi-based Aditya Stores regularly supplies campaign material to Bengaluru. The owner Aditya, who is currently in the city, says that his store has balloons, cutouts, T-shirts, suits, ladies footwear and some imported products in election merchandise. “The idea is to make the material look attractive and be reasonably priced. We haven’t gone overboard on creativity but we have made sure that buyers don’t fall short of variety,” he says.

Should declare expenditure related to purchase of election material

K N Ramesh, additional chief electoral officer-3 of Election Commission, tells Metrolife it is important to control and regulate the display of election material and candidates must be both responsible and accountable when using them during campaigning.

Campaigning needs approval of candidate

“If anybody wants to campaign for a candidate, he should have taken his or her permission. Without taking the candidate’s permission, campaigning for him or her is an offence. Many times candidates informally commission these but when caught these campaign managers say that they are doing it on their own,” he says.

All campaign expenditure must be accounted for...

“All the expenditure related to campaigns should be accounted for by the candidate and this includes election material as well. The returning officer should be informed on the estimated cost so that the authorities will keep a track of the expenditure. Candidates are allowed to buy election material within their specified budget. Anything over and above the stipulated expenditure will be questioned,” he adds.

Municipal laws will be in full force..

“Municipal laws, which deal with defacement of public places, are strictly implemented during elections, though they are always in force. Permission must be sought from the municipal authority before displaying publicity material,” K N Ramesh says.

Pricelist of election material sold in city

Standard-size masks: Rs 10
Cloth flags: Rs 7- Rs 150, depending on the size
T-shirts: Rs 19- Rs 150
Caps: Rs 7-Rs 25
Mufflers or shawls: Rs 50
Key chains: Rs 5 -Rs 10, depending on the size
Badges: Rs 2 - Rs 20

Free distribution of election material is akin to bribing...

Freely distributing election material among the voters is like bribing them. If people support a party, they themselves volunteer to buy these. Otherwise, the candidate maybe forcing it on the voter. This is punishable under the bribery law.

(Published 17 March 2019, 11:34 IST)

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