The companies not only take charge of preparing the stage, shamiana and speakers, but also set up tableaus for parties during roadshows.

In Udupi event management firms look to cash in on election frenzySet up at the Congress Rally at Royal Gardens, Udupi
Karnataka Elections Karnataka 2018 Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 19:22

Raja is busy overseeing a group of workers load myriad items onto a tempo. Everything from material for shamiana (awning), bamboo sticks, ropes and speakers are being loaded on to the vehicle, parked outside the three-room storage cum workspace at Kolambe in Udupi district of Karnataka.

“This is for a wedding nearby. We are setting up the shamiana and the stage later today,” explains Raja breathlessly.

Raja’s unnamed event management company in Kolambe is locally popular for setting the stage for small events. “We do everything from weddings to birthday parties,” he says. “Even election rallies.”

Which is why, he is looking forward to the elections in the state next month as his is among a number of event management companies in the district that get a steady business every election season.

“In this way we are neutral. We don’t prefer one party or another. If we get a contract to do a job, we honour it whichever party it is for,” he says, explaining that his company has set up events for Congress, BJP and JD(S) in the past.

“We set up the stage for JD(S) back when UR Sabhapathy was in the party, and we also set up the pandal when Rahul Gandhi gave a speech last month in Udupi,” he says. Raja’s company set up the pandal and stage, and also installed sound systems when Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressed Congress Seva Dal workers at Yermal in Udupi on March 20.

Raja is not alone in cashing in on the frenzy around elections. Ramanand Nayak, who manages Shantala Events in Alevoor, too, is all smiles when he talks about his next event. “We landed a sub contract to set up the stage for a Congress rally this Sunday,” he says. Congress is planning an event at Royal Gardens in Udupi where party contestant Pramod Madhwaraj is set to speak.

Raja's warehouse at Kolambe in Udupi

The companies not only take charge of preparing the stage, shamiana and speakers, but also set up tableaus for parties during roadshows. “Sometimes, the parties don’t want to set up a stage and instead want to do a roadshow or a bike rally. In that case, we set up a tableau which is an open top vehicle converted into a mobile stage,” explains Raja. “We are tasked with adding to the grandeur of the occasion and ensuring that the setup is both practical and aesthetic,” he adds.

While both Raja and Ramanand welcome the work that comes with elections, they both note that the number of events held by parties has reduced this year compared to previous elections.

They believe that the strict implementation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) which kicked in on March 26 is one of the reasons. “The Model Code of Conduct is being strictly imposed and there was also confusion around who will be the candidates from Udupi. These could be reasons why we have not had too many events in the run up to this election,” says Prabhakar Kamath, who runs KK Enterprises in Kukkikatte in the district.

Warehouse of KK Enterprises in Kukkikatte, Udupi

Prabhakar says that his event firm is yet to organise a single election-related event but revealed that the firm has been asked by the Election Commission to make arrangements in front of the Election Office in Udupi on May 15 – the day of counting. “We have been asked to set up chairs and tables outside the Town Development Office on counting day,” he says.  

He however notes that event management firms are slowly turning away from election work since they are not as profitable as working on private events, something that Raja corroborates. “I haven’t been paid yet for last month’s event,” he quips, before adding that political parties tend to delay making payments.

“For that reason, we are quite happy doing smaller events and staying away from election work this time around,” adds Raja.

The election season has already seen several rallies in Udupi but with the announcement of candidates by the major parties, campaigning in the temple town is set to go up a notch. Congress has fielded current MLA and Minister of Youth Fisheries and Sport Pramod Madhwaraj. BJP meanwhile is fielding former MLA Raghupati Bhat, setting up a repeat of the 2008 contest in the district when Raghupati edged out Pramod by 2,479 votes.

The news of two popular leaders squaring off against each other will be music to the ears of Raja, Ramanand and Prabhakar who will all be hoping to land the contract for the rallies and roadshows set to take place in the coming weeks.

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