It is not just politicians who seem to be affected by long elections, wedding planners in Kolkata too are opposed to the idea as it puts a lots of restrictions while doing business especially in faraway areas.
According to wedding planners operating in eastern India, restrictions imposed by EC and local administration, 48 hours before the day of polling, creates problems including in transportatin and purchase of goods.
"If the marriage function is within the city, then there is no problem. But if the function is out of city limits, then we face lot of problems. Firstly, on movement of vehicles, then purchase of goods," said Subham, an official of Forever Wedding planners. The country witnessed eight out of the nine-phase polls, longest in the history of India, West Bengal too saw four phases of elections for 25 seats since April 18. The final phase will be held on May 12 for 17 seats from the state.
The EC may be conducting the poll in so many phases in order to ensure smooth, free and fair polls, but wedding planners feel that due to restrictions, their business and marriage groups face lot of harassment, more so if the wedding is planned in the area where polls are to be held. "Even the buses carrying the bridegroom party and his family members are stopped at every check point and searched.
The police also creates problem over women wearing ornaments and cash as there are restrictions on carrying excessive cash and gold," Subham said. A staff of Subha Muharat Wedding Planner organisation said arrangement of liquor to be served in the marriage party is a problem as there is prohibition by EC.
"Suppose elections are on May 12 and you have a marriage party on May 11, then there is huge problem in arrangement of liquor as liquor shops in the area remain closed from May 10," he said. "And if you carry liquor from some other place to the venue, then you will face police questioning and harassment as you are carrying quite a large quantity to be served in the party," he added. The employee also expressed concern about travelling to an unknown area during poll time as this amounts to high risk to life and properties as the atmosphere is politically charged.
"If you have a marriage party in interior districts of Bihar, Assam or Bengal, where political violence is always on peak, attending (marriages in) those areas during poll time poses high risk," he said. Car and bus providers too expressed their resentment over long polls as it hampers their business to a large extent as the Election Commission hires vehicles on their whims and pays them only according to government rates.
"April-May are peak seasons of marriage, where you get several orders for providing cars and buses. But there is always a chance that your vehicle may be picked for election duty, which is financial loss for us," said a travel agency owner in North Kolkata on a condition of anonymity. Family members of several would-be brides and grooms also feel that long elections are a hindrance to smooth marriages. "Elections mean a politically charged atmosphere. The sooner it gets over the better for the people, including people like us as the atmosphere is politically charged," said Swapan Das, whose sister's marriage reception was held on May 7.