As voting day for the city nears, political party workers are making a beeline for shops selling election merchandise near Lalbaug flyover throughout the day. Traders here are busy taking orders for caps, flags, wristbands, hair pins, sarees and saree pins, badges, pens, coffee mugs, mufflers, scarves, t-shirts, rubber masks, and now mobile covers — all with either party symbols, pictures of party leaders or candidates.
City-based shopkeepers are tapping suppliers in Gujarat and Punjab to cater to the growing demands of political parties for different election merchandise. Political party flags come from Gujarat and the swords used by some of the political parties come from Punjab.
Dilip and Yogesh Parekh, proprietors of Parekh brothers, are one of the well-known suppliers of election merchandise in the area. “We get huge orders during assembly and municipal elections. However, while orders are comparatively lower during Lok Sabha elections, they too are important for us. Every election season, we have to keep ourselves updated with the latest trend. Like this year, many people prefer mobile phone covers with party logos,” said Parekh, whose shop is 63 years old.
Much in demand are mobile phone covers, T-shirts, caps and mufflers with pictures of party leaders on them. BJP’s T-shirts, mufflers and caps have a picture of Narendra Modi, along with the party’s lotus symbol. Most Congress T-shirts have a smiling Rahul Gandhi, while Shiv Sena and MNS T-shirts have Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray respectively.
This election season, the shops also ordered “Gandhi topis” in bulk, which are in demanded due to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The price of these election products range from Rs 5 to Rs 350. They are usually sourced from manufacturers in Punjab, Ahmedabad, Surat and Mathura, as raw material and labour is cheaper than in Maharashtra.
Mayuresh Sherla, owner of Mayuresh Dresswala, is the third generation of the Sherla family which runs a 90 year-old shop. “ So far over a lakh flags of all the major parties have been sold from my shop. Currently we are making 200 orange pagdis (turban) for a Shiv Sena rally. We have five sizes, in the range of Rs 5 to Rs 250,” Sherla said.
Narayan Patel, one of the owners of Shree Sainath Dresswala, says political merchandise sells throughout the year. “We have been selling election merchandise and political party paraphernalia for the past seven years. We actually deal in school uniforms, fancy dresses etc. However, all this merchandise is in great demand at some point or other throughout the year. Whether it is a political rally, a party meeting, a morcha, birthday bash or funeral of a political leader, such merchandise is in demand,” said Patel.
Patel added, “This year we have got orders for almost all parties but the Congress. We have got cloth for stitching flags worth Rs 2 lakh from Surat for Congress, but have not stitched even a single Congress flag yet. We got a good order for customised Gandhi topis for AAP. In one month, we have sold over 7,000 Gandhi topis for AAP to various groups.”