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With poll panel bar on expenses,no takers for campaign material

Unlike the earlier campaigns when blaring loudspeakers,huge hoardings and billboards,posters and banners announced the arrival of the poll season,this time things are different.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Amritsar |
January 20, 2012 3:51:37 am

It’s a quiet and clean elections in Punjab this year. Unlike the earlier campaigns when blaring loudspeakers,huge hoardings and billboards,posters and banners announced the arrival of the poll season,this time things are different. Owing to the Election Commission’s (EC) strict guidelines,the poll battlefield is relatively cleaner.

However,the stringent guidelines on the poll expenses have taken a toll on the manufacturers of flex board and hoardings in Punjab. The manufacturers of the poll campaign material,who were eyeing good business in the run up to January 30 polls,have been left high and dry after candidates in fray in Punjab polls this time are not too enthusiastic to put too many of their hoardings.

As a result,while a large number of manufacturers of flex and hoardings find themselves in a tight spot with huge stocks of the raw materials lying unused,there are others who even took loans and borrowed money on interests to set up the printing and publishing facility that costs anything between Rs 8 to Rs 10 lakh.

“I sold eight flex printing and publishing machines. The Chinese make imported machine along with the whole set-up costs between Rs 8 to Rs 10 lakh. Hoping for good business during the election season,just like in the previous polls,many took loans and borrowed money on interest to set up the facilities. But,the business this time is 25 per cent of what it was in 2009 parliamentary polls and the 2007 Assembly polls,” said Ranjit Singh of Aman Digital Flex Printing in Amritsar.

The EC guidelines that make it mandatory for the printer and publisher to mention name and address,along with the number of copies of poll campaign material has made things difficult both for the candidates and the manufacturers.

“As per the EC guidelines,it has become very difficult for the candidates to order the flex boards and hoardings as it would be put into their poll expenditure. As a consequence,we are also affected as there are not many orders,” said Yash of Indian Publicity.

“We are new into the business and were also planning to purchase a flex printing and publishing machine,but decided against it at the eleventh hour. Thank God we did not make an investment of nearly Rs 10 lakh,” said Navneet Malihar,husband of Neha Malihar,who owns Ocean Outdoors.

A visit to the constituencies in the border district of Amritsar supplements what manufactures of poll campaign material say. The flex boards and hoardings of the candidates are nowhere to be seen this time. Even the voters are feeling the effect as a Manawala resident in Amritsar district put it,“This time there are no hoardings,so we do not know who all are contesting the polls.”

Even the business of taxis has taken a hit with candidates avoiding moving in large convoys to avoid the likely addition of poll expenses to their account. “The majority of the taxis which are being hired these are for marriage functions only,” said a Taxi business operator in Amritsar.

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