Chennai: The wall poster culture of Tamil Nadu that dates back to ages, playing a vital role in political campaigns no longer remains a lucrative business.
The death of Amma (Jayalalithaa) and the immobility of DMK leader M. Karunanidhi have made matters worse for those eking out livelihood through posters.
Political leaders also attribute the decline in posters to the current unstable political scenario of Tamil Nadu. “Last year in May, Chennai was filled with posters to welcome former CM late Jayalalithaa back to the throne. Usually these posters are stuck from Amma’s residence to wherever Amma visits. And posters are age old practice of getting the attention of party leaders,” said K. Srinivasan, former MLA of AIADMK.
He added that digital campaigning replaced physical notices and people who used to write content for the posters have now become social media curators for the same purpose. Owing to this, numerous printing industries and poster boys, mainly coming from the arid areas of Tamil Nadu have shut down their business and hopped onto alternative jobs, said the AIADMK functionary.
Nineteen-year-old S. Venkatesh hailing from Sivakasi, who earns his livelihood by sticking posters said there has absolutely been no business for the past six months. He receives only a single order per month. “Also, people started preferring paintings more than bills as they stay longer and are much more appealing,” he said.
Ganapathi Litho in Chintadripet, which is one of the big names for printing political posters in Tamil Nadu, also complain of waning business. “Initially, we used to get order for at least 100 copies per day for which we charge `1,000. Now, we hardly get 100 copies per month. Also posters are mainly printed by AIADMK as compared to them, DMK does not even do half of it. With uncertainty in AIADMK, there are no positive prospects for our business in future,” said Mohana Sundaram.
Industry sources also rued that activists and public demanding for a poster-free Chennai have added to their misery. “Though the number of political posters have come down due to digitalization, Left parties continue to stick them as they do not have a television channel of their own to campaign. I have complained to the police who took immediate action. To my dismay, posters returned back, the next day,” said activist K Santhanam.
It all began in 1960s
The accent of political campaigning in Tamil Nadu lay in posters from 1960s during congress rule. They gained pace when M.G. Ramachandran entered politics when posters became opinion makers, especially among those belonging to the lower rungs of society. The ideal size of a poster printed then was 30*40 inches, which the printers would call as single bit. Currently, though the size of a single bit has come down by two inches, the political leaders would print a poster to the size of nine bits
Despite digital penetration congested pockets of labour dominated north Chennai still supports the poster industry. RK Nagar, Tondiarpet, Pulianthope, Royapettah, Perambur, Egmore and Sembiam are some of the localities where the traditions of political posters refuse to die