Elections 2019: Sale of campaign materials drops by over 50 percent at Lalbaug Market

Updated: Apr 20, 2019, 08:31 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Shop owners at Lalbaug Market say steady rise in campaigning on social media platforms has affected their business

About 20-25 shops sell banners, party flags, scarves, badges and caps during elections. Pics/Bipin Kokate
About 20-25 shops sell banners, party flags, scarves, badges and caps during elections. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Social media platforms have affected the business of shop owners who sell campaign materials at Lalbaug Market this general election. The shops, which received bulk orders last Lok Sabha elections, are empty this time around and owners claim their trade has dropped by more than 50 per cent.

Every poll season for the past 20 years, Yogesh Parekh sold all kinds of cloth-based election campaigning material - from banners, party flags to scarves, badges and caps - to all the major political parties. This election too, he kept bulk supplies worth Rs 8-10 lakh ready for parties like BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and Samajwadi Party but no one came by to purchase the items. "We record highest sale during BMC and Vidhan Sabha polls because of higher number of candidates. But in the past Lok Sabha elections, candidates would order material to use in the last 10 days of campaigning. This year, all the major political parties are campaigning more on social media and are not taking large numbers of people during their campaigning activities like before," he said.

Yogesh Parekh has kept bulk supplies worth Rs 8-10 lakh ready, but hasn't got any orders this year
Yogesh Parekh has kept bulk supplies worth Rs 8-10 lakh ready, but hasn't got any orders this year

Parekh said he has barely received any orders this year and has suffered losses. "The materials that didn't sell can still be used during the Vidhan Sabha polls later this year. But I got around 5,000 flags printed for Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh party and they recently announced a change in the design, so all flags have now gone to waste," he added.

Close to 20-25 shops in Lalbaug Market, which were the main suppliers of poll material in Mumbai, have suffered similar fate. Mayuresh Sherla's family has been selling campaigning items for three generations now, but he said, this Lok Sabha election, the orders reduced by at least 50 per cent. Unlike Parekh, Sherla prefers to buy the materials once the orders are placed.

Another shop owner, Yogesh Pawar, said this year's orders amounted to only 30 per cent of what he received in 2014. "During the last Lok Sabha polls, candidates would place customised orders at least a month before the campaigning starts. But this year, they are getting all the material from their respective parties, which is dealing directly with the manufacturers," he added.

In view of the steady rise in promotion on social media platforms, a few shop owners like Mohammed Aslam are even considering to stop selling election material altogether. "Since 2014, the major political parties that purchased the highest amount of material have been campaigning more online and can be seen less on the streets now. Even this year, I had to sell my stock to another shopkeeper since there were barely any orders. I run a costume business too, and now I am planning to stop selling election material altogether," he said.

The party members agreed that business with retailers has gone down but because of restrictions on candidates' campaign expenditures. Congress MLA Amin Patel said, "It is true that there is a lot of focus on social media this year but the party has made bulk purchase from the manufacturers so that the candidates don't have to. The candidates can only spend up to Rs 70 lakh and this year GST is applicable too."

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