No takers for political ‘mangal sutras’ in Orissa (With Image)

April 14th, 2009 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi By Prashant K. Nanda
Bhubaneswar, April 14 (IANS) Several small traders have come to Orissa from Delhi, Gandhi Nagar and Raipur to sell election-related material like caps, pens and head bands with symbols of political parties on them, but the business isn’t as good as expected and special ‘mangal sutras’ are the worst hit.

“I have brought over two dozen items related to election campaigns - from hand fans with party symbols to caps and badges. The business is slow but the worst hit item is the mangal sutra,” said Lal Parchani, a trader from Raipur.

Mangal sutras are black-bead necklaces with a small locket worn by married Hindu women.

“I had brought over 5,000 such items for each political party - BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party), BJD (Biju Janata Dal) and the Congress - as activists had told us that women will like it the most. But I am facing the reality as all of these item are remaining unsold,” Parchani told IANS.

He said he had done great business during the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and came to Orissa for the first time as both the assembly and Lok Sabha polls are taking place at the same time.

Each mangal sutra is priced between Rs.30 and Rs.35, said Pankaj Kumar, another businessman who has come from Sadar Bazar in Delhi. “(But) Where is the customer?” he asked.

“I am selling election materials related to the Congress party. People in Bhubaneswar told me that Mangal Sutra will have great demand and I brought around 2,000 of them but I have sold just 60 pieces in the last 14 days.

“We have specially given an order from a Mumbai manufacturer to give us these imitation jewellery with party symbols, but now it is clear that it was a loss-making effort,” he rued.

The traders said that the women in Orissa are just laughing at these political mangal sutras.

Said Kamala Rani Behera, who was bargaining for some Congress caps in an election material shop: “I may be a political supporter but will never sport these party mangal sutras. It seems so weird,” she laughed.

Besides mangal sutras, the businessmen said the overall market for election materials in Orissa, which goes to polls April 16 and 23, was a little slow this time.

“During the election season I conduct a business of over Rs.600,000 but this time it will not reach even Rs.100,000. The late announcement of candidates and confusion over candidate selection by all the three major political parties can be blamed for the poor business,” Binay Patnaik, who collaborates with traders from Gujarat and Lucknow, told IANS.

Sitting amid colourful bundles of flags, posters and other articles like pens, badges, head bands and dummy voting machines with the Congress symbol, Kumar said: “I have brought materials worth Rs.1 million but have done just 50 percent business.”

“Of the 400 (dummy) voting machines, 100 were sold and of the 10,000 badges with Sonia Gandhi’s image just 2,000 were sold. But we had a good time selling Congress caps. Of the 37,000 caps, over 30,000 have already been sold and the credit goes to the hot summer here,” he said with a smile.

Parchani also agreed as he has sold over 20,000 caps with the conch symbol of the BJD.

“Congress and BJD caps are in major demand, but BJP is a little cold here,” he said.

“The ban imposed by the election commission on plastic materials too has dampened our business. Overall, I have done less than 40 percent business,” he said.

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