Saving us from the scorching heat and nagging rains, the ever-lofty umbrellas are now at a new high. Decked up with symbols of political parties, these mobile shades are being used as effective campaigning tools with the mercury soaring during the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.The crammed Pagya Patti lane in central Kolkata's wholesale hub Burrabazar sees frenetic activity as West Bengal gears up for its fifth and final stage of polls May 12, when the show of democracy that began in the north Bengal hills April 16 comes rolling to the cosmopolitan state capital.Two shopkeepers in the locality have been slogging for 10 hours at a stretch to keep up to the rising demands of these political umbrellas. The ruling party, Trinamool Congress, is topping the charts.For decades, shops in this area have been doling out innovative textile goods. As for the umbrellas, the raw material is sourced from China and then put together in manufacturing outlets spanning Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and other states."I have sold 20,000 to 30,000 umbrellas bearing the symbol and name of Trinamool. Around 10,000 pieces each of those with symbols of the Congress, BJP and CPI-M have also been sold," Rahul Gambhir, the owner of a 40-year-old shop, S.P Textiles, told IANS.
Bulk orders have been placed by party workers. Customers, who ardently support some parties, are in no way behind."I am a true Congress supporter. I have purchased 300-400 umbrellas bearing the symbol of the Congress," said a customer, Tariq Ishad.Apart from umbrellas, he also bought some t-shirts and mobile belts with political motifs.With a reasonable price range of Rs. 60 to Rs. 350, these umbrellas have made a mark in comparison to the ordinary ones.According to Lalit Sethia, who owns an eponymous small shop close by, some 35,000 umbrellas with party symbols have been sold in the last one month.Sethia and Gambhir are not only selling a variety of political-themed umbrellas, they have their differing opinions when it comes to governance.
As businessmen, the scale tips in favour of a candidate who can enhance entrepreneurship prospects."Trinamool is much better than CPI (M)", Sethia told IANS."Jo achha hai, wahi aaye aur business ke liye achha kare. BJP ko ek chance milna hi chahiye." (The deserving party should come to power, the one who does good for business. BJP should be given a chance)," added Sethia."I really want Narendra Modi to come. He has got new concepts," said Gambhir.Asked about the prospects of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the next prime minister, Gambhir bluntly said that he would "not like to comment anything about our chief minister".