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Virtual campaigning hits sale of poll memorabilia in UP

Lucknow, Jan 7 (IANS) As all political parties prepare to switch to virtual campaigning in the upcoming UP assembly elections due to the prevailing Covid situation, it is the election publicity and memorabilia business that has taken the worst hit.

Most of the shops selling publicity material for various parties in the UP assembly polls had stocked up on flags, banners, photographs, stickers, caps, bags, key chains and folders.

"Elections are a festival of sorts in UP and we were expecting good business this time but the pandemic has not only destroyed our hope of brisk sales but has also led to losses because we had bought the stocks," said R K Agarwal, a leading name in the business.

Agarwal has a wholesale business and stocks publicity material for almost all major political parties.

"Our flags and banners are sold in huge numbers for rallies and yatras. But now that rallies and yatras are being cancelled due to the pandemic, we are left with unsold material," he said.

Arvind Jain who has set up shop outside the Samajwadi Party office, said that sales had plummeted after Thursday when it became almost clear that campaigning would be done in the virtual mode.

"Several leaders who had placed orders for customised items, have called up to put their orders on hold. They are waiting for the Election Commission to issue clear guidelines on campaigning," he said.

Meanwhile, in the BJP office, memorabilia with photographs of Modi and Yogi remain bestsellers.

"Anyone who is even remotely interested in elections is buying items with Modi and Yogi photographs. These are evergreen bestsellers and their sales have not been impacted by the pandemic," said Ashok, a salesman.

The Congress publicity material, this time, is available in shades of pink with the theme of "Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon." Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's face dominates the show while Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi seem to have receded into the background.

The BSP office wears a desolate look and election and publicity items sales have not picked up simply because the party has not finalised candidates.

"Who would want to risk their money unless their (BSP's) candidature is sure," said a BSP leader.