Chennai: Tough Election Commission (EC) guidelines may have helped keep the city’s walls clean without the garish poll graffiti and the skyline bereft of huge hoardings but it has deprived the painters of a chance to earn extra money in the poll season.
Somewhere in the heat and dust of poll campaign, the plight of painters has been forgotten, their associations complain.
Adding to their woes was the recent state government’s order to remove hoarding which clogged the sky line of Chennai. With this any scope of painters to earn additional money has disappeared.
Not just candidates, but even small time painters, caterers, artisans, outdoor advertising agencies are being impacted by the curbs imposed by the EC, they say.
“Especially during the election time, each painter would have earned atleast Rs 25,000 per month”, Tamil Nadu Outdoor Advertising Association secretary A G Nayakam told PTI.
“Infact, hoardings played an important role during elections. In the last polls, many politicians have opted for hoardings since it reaches to the people very quickly”, he said.
EC rules say that ”no political party or candidate shall permit its or his followers to make use of any individuals land, building, compound wall etc., without its permission, for erecting flag-staffs, suspending banners, pasting notices, writing slogans etc.
“Every year there are several enquiries by both candidates and their supporters. But this time round, there have been no enquiries. The polls have failed to generate any business this year,” said Kannan, a painter, who was engaged in outdoor and indoor painting.
He said apart from the painters, scaffolders also lost business this time.
Poll time usually meant overtime wages for signboard painters and veterans who have been on the job of painting cutouts of political leaders and drawing posters.
It is not just small time artisans who are feeling the pinch, but also the owners of houses, whose walls face the streets, as they used to rent their walls to political parties for publicity.
The chipped walls of these houses get a fresh coat of paint liberally dabbed across it during elections. Besides the houses getting whiter and brighter, it also stood as ‘brand ambassadors´ for political parties, which painted their logos and witty taglines on the walls.
House owners, who were paid a sum for transforming their walled houses into temporary signboards are now missing those small amounts they earned during elections. Guidelines by EC on the expenses of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections have also severely affected units manufacturing election campaign merchandise in this southern state once famous for life-size cutouts of cine stars-turned-politicians.
Once elections were announced, Parry’s Corner in the northern part of this state capital becomes abuzz with activity as all political parties place orders for flags, posters, life-size cutouts of leaders.
The EC’s directive restricting candidates on their campaign hoardings, graffitis and posters has also affected the business of printing presses also.
Kumar, an offset printer owner is disappointed. “The EC’s order has played havoc with our business as political parties have placed hardly about 25% of the orders they usually placed before earlier elections, he said.
Election materials like metal badges, key chains, caps and T-shirts with emblems of various political parties had always been a big draw in rural south India during elections.
The situation in Sivakasi in southern Tamil Nadu and 500 km from here, said to be the printing capital of the country, is equally grim. They have not received any bulk orders, which even came from other states in south India.
According to the sources from the Sivakasi Master Printers Association “the printing units are not doing much business. There was a time they had received orders for printing lakhs of posters from political parties”.