A vendor sells marigold garlands in front of the district collectorate in Ranchi on Sunday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Bring out marigolds for the mayor and his or her merry team. In other words, catch the fragrance of a flourishing business opportunity in the heat and dust of Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) polls.
According to the Hindu panchang (calendar), many days in the ongoing month of Phalgun are inauspicious for weddings.
Normally, for florists, this is an off-season. Capital florists are resigned to selling a few birthday bouquets and funeral wreaths around this time.
But this year, the RMC polls have changed the name of the game for florists who import a bulk of flowers — mainly marigolds and roses — from Calcutta.
As candidates file nominations for ward councillors’ posts, florists around the district collectorate in Kutchery are doing brisk business, with marigold garlands priced between Rs 15 and Rs 18 being the best-seller.
Numbers look promising. The RMC has 55 wards. Nominations began from March 13 and will continue till March 19. The actual poll will be held on April 7. Then, once results start pouring in, supporters will almost choke winners with garlands.
Municipal elections are still new in Ranchi, which explains the frenzied enthusiasm in the city. The RMC poll held in 2008 was the first after Jharkhand’s creation in 2000 and 22 years after the civic body was created.
The 2013 polls — the second — are proof of the fact that the democratic process has got entrenched. For supporters of various candidates, merriment lies in marigold, the more garlands the better.
For instance, on March 15, Day Four of filing nominations, ward No. 25 councillor Md Aslam who is contesting for the same post, reached the collectorate with 150 supporters. As he signed poll-related documents, his supporters brought five sacks of marigold garlands for a road show. The road show, which could more appropriately be called a bike rally of over 80 motorcycles, saw everyone sporting marigold garlands.
Florist Ramswarup Malakar of Shaheed Chowk, also resident of ward No. 25, Hindpiri, was on cloud nine as all his garlands were sold in one go.
Florists Hari Malakarand Manoj Malakar also called themselves “lucky”.
“Business has really picked up,” Kutchery-based Manoj, who runs his shop near the temple, smiled, pointing at the throng of buyers.
“When the civic poll nominations started, right from day one, supporters of various candidates came to my shop. All the marigold garlands are getting sold fast. So, I put up a kiosk opposite the collectorate for the convenience of supporters. Business is booming even more,” Manoj said.
For Hari too, the time is ripe to earn a “quick buck”.
Both Hari and Manoj unanimously said they did not have to hike the price — Rs 15 for each garland is what they are charging.
Ramswarup, who is a veteran in the trade, also shared his secrets.
“To introduce some diversity, I am giving a choice of marigold and rose garlands. Also, if the garland is small, people get choked. So I am making garlands of different sizes,” he said.
He’s given supporters a great tip. Let marigolds stay symbols of support for poll contestants or winners, don’t turn them into tight nooses.