If you thought the ban on political banners at Ganpati mandals would give you respite, think again. Politicians are looking to hoodwink the ban and find new ways to display their faces. According to sources, trucks and tempos, which are hired for visarjan, could be the new boards for displaying political banners.
Sources from various truck and tempo associations claim that it is quite likely that these banners could be seen hanging on vehicles, especially on the days of visarjan of big idols. “Political banners are expected to be put up on trucks and tempos on all mandals with political affiliations,” said Bal Malkit Singh, President, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).
Recently, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) extended the ban of displaying political banners outside Ganesh mandals throughout the city and suburbs. Each of the smaller mandals get Rs 40,000-80,000 as sponsorship money from politicians, but the ban has brought about a dip in funds collected from politicians. MiD DAY published a story on the same (‘Ban on posters makes politicians tight-fisted with Ganpati donations’, September 5).
According to BMC officials, Ganpati festival witnesses the highest number of hoardings, with roughly around 1,000 banners in each ward. However, this year’s limitation of two banners per mandal (which also strictly have to be the mandal’s banners, and not political displays) has affected both mandals and political parties. At many small Ganesh mandals, there are no ugly banners put up.
Another member of a truck association said that since the ban mentions nothing about displaying banners on moving vehicle, trucks and tempos would come in handy, and they would also garner sufficient publicity. Sources from the Bombay Goods Transport Association added that this year, around 4,000 big trucks, a few hundred multi-axle trucks, and more than 7,000 tempos are expected to be booked on the last day of visarjan i.e. Anant Chaturdashi.
“We are expecting a rise in the number of trucks booked by 10 per cent. Most of the big mandals have two trucks or tempos, in which the members and musicians both are accommodated,” explained a transport owner. “Moreover, being a non-organised sector, many people make their bookings through truck and tempo drivers too,” he added.
On the day of immersion, every truck and tempo has to mention the mandal’s name in front of the truck using a banner. Mandals have agreed to display political banners as well. A member of a famous mandal from the Lalbaug area, on condition of anonymity, said, “We will display them on the immersion day on the procession truck. Politicians are coming up with new ways for publicity. We are sometimes forced to display their banners, as they have sponsored our celebrations. We will not break the rule of displaying banners on the road. Hence, we have to resort to this new way.”
Sachin Khamkar, the secretary of Shakti Nagar Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal in Andheri also confirmed the same. “We didn’t get many donations this year. We will be putting up banners of only those politicians who have paid a little more than the others. We will display them on our truck as we head for immersion on Sunday.”
Sanjay Ambole, senior Shiv Sena leader, said, “I am not going to put up any banners, but if my followers put them up, I can’t help it.” Shivji Singh, Congress leader, said, “If my followers take the necessary permissions from the civic body and other authorities, then there shouldn’t be any problem in displaying the banners.”
No of trucks, including 100 multi-axle trucks, that will be on the roads on the last day of visarjan
Number of tempos that are expected to be booked on Anant Chaturdashi