From singers to SUVs, MP panchayat polls create a cottage industry

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By Praveen Dwivedi Bhopal, June 26 : With the panchayat and municipal polls in Madhya Pradesh, many small size businesses especially those dealing in products required for the election campaign have witnessed a surge. Also, many unemployed youth have got some work to do with an opportunity to earn money from the candidates contesting the polls. Local businesses that received a boost during the elections include sweet shops, travel agencies, printing (posters, banners) and recordings. Local singers have also got ample opportunity to make money from recording songs and slogans for candidates. Usually, in gram panchayat elections candidates go door-to-door for campaigning, however, with the changing trends and strategies, candidates for the sarpanch post are also using loudspeakers for campaigning like in the assembly and general elections. Sarpanch candidates who are using loudspeakers for campaigning are mostly youth who believe in new trends and are closely connected with urban areas. Many sarpanch candidates using loudspeakers spoke to IANS. 34 -year-old Pradumn Dube, who is a candidate for the sarpanch post from Sar gram panchayat in Rewa district, said, "I am using loudspeakers for campaigning because I want to reach each and every resident of my village. Here in the rural areas, you can easily meet men but it is very difficult to meet women. Most of the women cast their votes on the advice of their men. Women should decide their candidates on their own." People running travel agencies, especially in the remote areas, would normally struggle for customers for their vehicles, but during this election they have many customers. Even a zila (district) panchayat candidate has booked at least 10 four-wheelers for campaigning. Many candidates who delayed booking four-wheelers are now forced to hire them on double charges. "I have 16 four-wheelers, including Safari, Bolero, Marshal and these days these vehicles are in demand. I have arranged 15 more four-wheelers on contract to earn money during this election," said Rajiv Singh, who runs a travel agency in Rewa. A local singer (Bagheli dialect) Raj Kumar told IANS that he charges between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 for five songs for the candidates. "I have been recording songs for local candidates for the past several years. Now, more and more people are using loudspeakers and songs for campaigning. It has been two weeks, our entire team is working day-night and of course getting money for work," Raj Kumar said. Unemployed youth have also got some work during the elections and an opportunity to earn some money. In both rural and urban areas, youth are associated with candidates of their choice and are campaigning for them. IANS also observed that liquor has become a crucial item to get support during the elections in Madhya Pradesh. The colonies of tribals, ST/SC are the main targets where candidates distribute liquor. /IANS




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