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
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
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
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.