If you see a green kite entangled with a red kite in the skies, prepare to read into it much more than just a neighbourhood kite duel. Adopting new means to campaign and reach out to voters, political parties are now ordering for kites wearing their party colours and bearing party symbols.
Bablu Sen, who runs the famous shop 'Bengal Kites' in north Kolkata's Santosh Mitra Square, has stocked up on such "political kites" for supporters of Trinamool Congress, BJP, Congress and CPI(M).
"Trinamool has ordered 2000 kites. Besides being green in colour it has the party symbol of tri-coloured flower and grass. A printed photo of Mamata Banerjee's photograph is also included on the face of the kite," the kite-maker said.
He says that being a cheap option, party workers are distributing kites to patrons. Ahead of polling on May 12 in the metropolis, his sales have shot up as supporters of various political parties are queueing up outside his shop.
"Everyone who comes here these days wants to see the political kites even if they don't buy one. Therefore, I have displayed kites of all parties properly so that no party feels left out," Sen says.
Another kite-seller Ajit Dutta, whose shop goes by the name of "India Kites", said he was excited with the jump in demand for such kites this year. "For us it means good business. Kites can be used effectively for publicity and advertisement purposes but very few do it properly," the kite seller says.
Politicians have been under pressure to devise new means of campaigning as the Election Commission has been strict against defacing walls with poll graffiti. According to kite-makers, since kites can be hanged or pasted easily, it can also be used like an alternative to posters.
"Posters have been used for a very long time. Now you can display the party's message on kites as well which are more eye-catching," Sen says, adding that it would also give boost to the dying cottage industry of kite manufacturing.
In some cases, party workers are seen decorating their party offices and vehicles with kites made in party colours. They have kept the prices of these kites between Rs 5 and Rs 10, against Rs 3 for the regular ones. Besides Trinamool's, saffron kites bearing BJP's lotus symbol are selling like hot cakes from the shops.
"There is not much demand for other parties," the kite-makers say.