Change in campaign mode hits small businesses

Candidates opted more for street meetings and programmes to interact directly with the voters

Elections in the past were similar to festivals, with political parties erecting grand stages and arches, hoisting banners and flags, and organising mega public meetings.

This year, the parties and the candidates have opted more for street meetings and programmes to interact directly with the voters. This change in the mode of campaigning means less than usual election business for many.

Stage decorator Basha says he did not use flowers or flex banners for any of the stages that he put this year for election meetings. “Political parties used to spend minimum ₹ 20,000 to ₹ 30,000 on decorations for a stage. This year, there was no use of flowers at all.” Even the number of sound boxes kept at meetings was relatively less. There are 20 to 30 stage decorators in Coimbatore who are usually active during elections. With restrictions on spending by political parties, business was low this year for these decorators, he adds.

According to Balamurugan, who rents out sound systems for public meetings and vehicle campaigns, it was just two to three meetings and lesser number of vehicles this year. “We did only two or three meetings and about 30 vehicles. Earlier, we used to provide sound systems to about 60 vehicles during elections. The number of days given to candidates for campaigning is less this year. Candidates prefer to meet and interact with the public. So they are not going in for stage meetings,” he says.

J. James, who was involved in organising a public meeting in the city for elections, says that when a political party approaches the election officials for permission to organise meetings, they need to provide details of the stage size, number of sound boxes, etc. The officials calculate the expenditure based on the information and also inspect the site. With restrictions on expenditure, parties have reduced public meetings. If there is a public meeting, several small vendors will bring goods to sell at the gathering. They did not have business this year.

According to an independent candidate, people like him should get more days to campaign. They cannot afford to appoint people to take care of the election expenditure and so lose time in visiting the officials for permissions and submitting details.

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