Promoting the same old products

Who doesn't know Mahinda and Ranil? We have seen enough of them from their salad days to the present day. They have been elected many a time consecutively by the people who know them for what they are.

So, why should there be so many thousands of posters and giant cut outs with pictures of the duo taken years ago? They, we thought, needed no marketing. 'Poster Masters' have spared nary an inch on the wayside walls in a bid to sell their political masters to the public. Some cutouts are really awesome, if not awful. Many times larger than life, they have so menacing a look about them that one, on seeing them, may want to run away. On a moonlit night, they may even be mistaken for ghosts.

Betel chewers appear to be no respecters of personalities. They have sprayed posters red in such a way that it looks as if they had voted with their mouths. Sri Lankans are a creative lot, aren't they? They have made the handsome faces of the 'youthful candidates'–politicians remain young in this country until sixty five–grinning from walls resemble that of Dracula with extra teeth added. Those disfigured mugs might give a fright even to their family members. One candidate had got his throat slit on a cutout at a busy intersection in the city. Some electors appear to have taken to dentistry in that the dazzling white teeth of candidates smiling from posters have been pulled out. What a sight!

In the suburbs, goats are feasting on 'candidates' to their heart’s contents. Nay, we are not talking of the two legged ones that blindly vote, forget and forgive but the four legged ones. They are working overtime on parapet walls making a meal of paappa coated posters together with 'smiling faces.'

While on the subject of paappa, it was only the other day that the supporter of one candidate got his throat slit in a brawl over a pot of paste! Throat cutting is the name of the game, isn't it?

Both camps appear to be flirting with the idea that the bigger the posters and cutouts they put up, the better the chances of their candidates winning. Although the red light has started blinking for the Poster Masters and others responsible for big erections such as cutouts, they are likely to carry on regardless. The police will have to give in vis-`E0-vis 'unceasing waves' tactics of politicians.

Apart from the eyesore of posters and cutouts, the unbridled use of polythene for decorations has become a nuisance. It does more harm to the environment than visual pollution. An election sends, both literally and figuratively, hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of polythene down the drain. Environmentalists have made an appeal to politicians to avoid using polythene but in vain. When did politicians listen to the civic-minded?

As for visual pollution, politicians are not the only culprits. Elections or no elections, the city is a billboard jungle. Semi naked women stare from treetops distracting motorists and pedestrians. Perhaps, some billboards have rendered soft internet porn redundant. Teenagers are apparently learning to settle for such erotic hoardings. Besides arousing the feelings of the young and the old alike, these boards also deny the weary-eyed public the pleasure of the soothing effect of the greenery. And we have the city fathers boasting of their plans to beautify the city! Of what use is the greenery that is hidden from the eye?

We are reminded of a path breaking ruling by the Indian Supreme Court some time ago against a multinational beverage company. It had got its logo painted on the picturesque rock surfaces in a far flung state. The SC imposed a whopping fine on the company concerned to the tune of millions of rupees and ordered that the defaced rock surfaces be restored to their pristine position. Such harsh action is called for to stop multinational mudalalis and their local counterparts bent on ruining the environment, in their tracks.

Back to politics, as the election campaign hots up with so much at stake for both parties, it is likely to assume the proportions of a fiercely fought war. The few incidents of violence already reported from the provinces are indications that we are moving in that direction. It is imperative that an early end be put to the election poster that is the mother of all political battles. On the other hand, such gimmicks serve little purpose as they are aimed at promoting the same old products that the electorate is already aware of.

In some parts of the city, the municipality has started clearing posters. And these operations must be stepped up in keeping with election laws.


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