In a state where the Dravidian parties have held fort for over 50 years, it seems like the people don’t remember the national parties.
Several shops in the Cuddalore district have stocked towels, hand fans and scarves bearing the colours of different parties that are contesting in the elections. Black and red for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), black-white-red for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), black-yellow-red for the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and so on.
While shopkeepers say that business has been dull, the only items to get sold out bear the Indian National Congress’ colours.
A further enquiry with customers, and the shopkeepers revealed that many customers believed that they were buying the national colours. “I walked into the shop, and saw several scarves in the India colours. Whenever we watch a cricket match at home, we hold the Indian flag, I thought I would wear this scarf the next time around,” Siva Mohan, a resident of Vadalur explained, as he bought a woollen scarf for Rs 40.
A lady selling a Congress scarf in Cuddalore.
When this reporter enquired if he knew that they were the colours of the Congress, customers admitted that he had never paid close attention to that party’s colours. “We know the colours of the DMK, AIADMK, PMK and even DMDK, but the Congress is not very popular in the area, so I have never noticed,” Siva’s friend Muthu said.
According to Ramadevi, who owns a fancy store near the Vadalur bus-stand that sells party paraphernalia, while there is poor demand for other party fans and scarves, the Congress scarves are being sold out at a fast pace.
“When we bought the items in Chennai, we assumed that the cardboard hand fans would be popular items, but so far nobody has bought them, even though they cost only Rs 5,” she said.
As election fever grips Tamil Nadu, it appears that the culture of giving out freebies has meant poor business for shopkeepers selling items in party colours.
In other shops, too, the situation is similar. Dharmarajan, who owns a fancy store in Cuddalore says that he, too, has only sold Congress colours. “In the last elections, there was a huge demand for dhotis, towels and hand fans, especially from people who were attending the rallies. The DMK and the AIADMK colours got sold out first, but there was also a lot of demand for PMK colours,” he said.
According to 75-year-old Subramanian, who was seen in Vriddhachalam proudly sporting an AIADMK dhoti (red, white and black border), DMK towel (red and black border) and a DMDK turban (red, yellow and black), party functionaries have been distributing these to the people. “I have no affiliation to any of the parties, and all the party men have been distributing items in the village. The latest addition was the turban that a DMDK party member tied on my head, so I am wearing all of it,” he said.
“Many of my customers say that the parties have been handing out freebies at all election rallies, so they have no need to buy any of these items,” Dharmarajan added.
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