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Polls bring sunny days for poster, banner writers

Written by: Staff

Guwahati, Mar 17: With polls round the corner, making hay while the sun shines seems to be the order of the day.

For Tapan Das, a printing press owner, Samarendra Saha, a painter, and Jiban Gogoi, a screen printer, its time to rake in the moolah.

After an idle year Das is working round-the-clock reeling out posters of not less than 12 candidates of at least four different parties.

For him, elections mean business and he does not want to waste time talking to reporters specially after failing to cash in on the last Lok Sabha polls when his machine went out of order.

Reluctantly talking to UNI, Tapan Das said, ''Every election I receive orders for posters and pamphlets. This year also the orders started coming in after the parties announced the names of their candidates. Unfortunately this time everybody have got just two weeks' time. Today is the final date for nomination. So we are working round the clock to deliver the bulk of the posters by Sunday night.'' He informed that the orders are pouring in from the constituencies in and around his shop. ''Nowadays the orders do not come from distance as there are too many of us in the profession.

But there is no problem among the political parties that I am printing for the rival parties at a time,'' he said.

Mr Das is not alone. His long time rival Alak Banerjee, who has another press across the road, further informed that the orders for the posters generally come in blocks of ten thousand.

''For an order of 10,000 copies in black and white, the market rate is about Rs 7,500 while for colour posters, it is about Rs 3 per copy,'' he said.

Besides the poster printers, there is also a great demand for banner writers. ''The banners are visible from a distance and are more durable. The posters are not viable in rural areas as there are hardly any walls, except that of the government buildings where you cannot paste them as per the EC guidelines,'' said Samarendra Saha, a painter turned banner writer.

Generally each banner is one meter wide and ten meters in length.

Most of these banners are based on white cloth.

''There are also screen printed banners which generally have the photographs of the candidates,'' said Mr Saha refusing to divulge the rate he has been demanding from the candidates.

With just two weeks to go for polls, the prices are touching the sky. ''The price does not matter anymore. It is question of delivery. I have a 1200 piece order to be delivered by Sunday night,'' he said pointing out the dozen odd labourers slogging it out in his shanty garage-turned-workshop area.

Mr Jiban Gogoi, proprietor of a screen printing press in the city, said, ''Elections mean brisk business for us and it helps us in making up for the losses we incur during lean period.'' ''For per metre of cloth, we charge Rs 50 and Rs 10-20 extra for bi-colour banners. The candidates are very particular about the banners, they want it to be beautifully written and, of course, no mistakes,'' said Mr Gogoi.

Every candidate needs about a thousand banners and they distribute the order among various agencies to ensure timely delivery, he added.

Though the pre-poll time sees much income for the banner writers and poster makers, it barely leaves them with any profit after taking into account the losses they suffer when these orders dry out.

With the Election Commission prohibiting wall writing, the graphiti artists this time are a disgruntled lot. ''Where to write?.

We are no longer in demand,'' said Amiya Das of Palasbari, once a sought after wall writer of the constituency for his witty one liners, which are complete with little eye catching graphiti.


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