As AIADMK goes on banner blitzkrieg in Chennai, citizens group tells them to take a hike

The Satta Panchayat Iyakkam pasted posters on the EPS and OPS cutouts saying, “This place is for public. Not for your advertisement.”
As AIADMK goes on banner blitzkrieg in Chennai, citizens group tells them to take a hike
As AIADMK goes on banner blitzkrieg in Chennai, citizens group tells them to take a hike

If there’s one big fallout of the EPS-OPS reunion in Tamil Nadu that everyone can see, it’s the banner blitzkrieg that’s been set off.

As the unified AIADMK set off to attend the centenary celebrations for MGR in Kancheepuram district on Wednesday, activists allege, around 900 hoardings have been placed on just one seven-kilometre stretch from Chrompet to Vandalur, bearing the smiling figures of Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam. 

While most of them are placed on the footpath, completely blocking walking paths for pedestrians, some of them even protrude onto the road, raising the risk of accidents at such points.

And it doesn’t end there. At some places, larger-than-life cut-outs of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister have also been spotted, rising precariously to heights of over 30 feet.  

But, enraged citizen groups are determined not to allow public space to be swallowed with impunity for political advertising. Hitting out at the ruling party, The Satta Panchayat Iyakkam (SPI), an NGO, pasted white posters on the faces of EPS and OPS on several banners with the words: “This place is for public. Not for your advertisement.”

Speaking to TNM, SPI General Secretary, Senthil Arumugam said, "Even when Jayalalithaa was alive such banners were not placed around Chennai. They are now present from Tambaram to Perangalathur, in Guduvanchery and on GST road. All this is for the MGR centenary celebrations.”

Describing the most overpopulated stretch, he added, “From Chrompet to Vandalur, the hoardings last for about 7km. There must be at least 900 hoardings in this part alone. People are not able to walk on the footpath. The projections from these hoardings are dangerous for even vehicles."

Criticising the current government, Senthil accused the government of lacking such enthusiasm when it came to real issues affecting people, "People are already so frustrated with this government. They don't show this much enthusiasm when it comes to NEET exemption or to control dengue. Major issues are being sidelined as they project themselves.”

He added that the banner frenzy had particularly grown after the EPS-OPS factions reunited. “After Jayalalithaa died, they did not know whose face to put on banners. Now, since the merger happened, party workers are uncontrollable. This entire display is insulting to people and to MGR whom they are celebrating."

This is not the first time that the AIADMK’s overzealousness with banners has outraged people. In 2015, soon after the devastating floods in Chennai, the party had come under fire for a series of hoardings featuring then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa from Royapettah to Thiruvanmiyur, ahead of the party’s General Council meeting. While the figures on the banners have changed, however, the party’s zeal for the ‘cut-out’ culture seems undiminished. 

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