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The ongoing Uttar Pradesh (UP) urban local bodies polls have come as virtual booster shot for the local economy, especially unorganised sector, experiencing the same domestic economy blip following the twin impacts of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Soon after the announcement of civic polls schedule last month, the candidates of the various political parties as also the overwhelming number of the independents across the state vying for about 12,000 urban local bodies posts launched their vigorous election campaigns. The candidates expend towards their aides, volunteers and party workers during electioneering, besides incurring for publicity, canvassing, vehicles, election office, snacks, tents etc. The demand for pamphlets, posters, handbills etc has already shot up and the local printers are working overtime to cater sudden surge in demand. Besides, the companies dealing in preparing campaign songs are in high demand. Mumtaz Alam of Lucknow-based Gomti Agencies told Business Standard he charged Rs 2,000 for a publicity audio song. “We are getting customers not only from Lucknow but from neighbouring districts like Sitapur and Barabanki as well.” The upward revision of the poll expenses ceiling this year by the State Election Commission (SEC) has further given an uptick in electioneering by the post hopefuls. The SEC had increased poll expenses limit of the mayoral candidates to Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh for mayoral constituencies comprising up to 80 wards and more than 80 wards respectively from the earlier limit of Rs 12.5 lakh. Similarly, for municipal councils, the expenses limit was fixed at Rs 8 lakh and Rs 6 lakh for the seat of chairman and members respectively.
For Nagar Panchayats, the expenses limit has been fixed at Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 30,000 for the post of chairman and members respectively.With a total of 79,216 candidates in fray for the various posts in 2017 UP urban civic polls, including mayors, municipal council chairmen, corporators, Nagar Panchayat chairperson, members etc, the total poll expenses by all the candidates is estimated at several hundred of crores and even more than a thousand crore on the higher side. Economist Prof Arvind Mohan of Lucknow University said the economy had been weathering slowdown for quite some time due to various domestic and global factors and in such a scenario, these polls have the propensity of boosting demand for a number of goods and services, especially in the unorganised sector. “The UP civic polls have created demand in the informal sector and have a positive impact on the income and demand side. It is an unintended intervention, which would anyhow benefit the poorer sections in society at the local level, generating income and dispensing distributive justice,” he noted. BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said the polls would certainly give a major leg up to the local economy. “Right from the demand for flags, posters, tents and furniture to hold rallies to the requirement of manpower, everything registers an increase and it helps the local economy revive and benefit the unorganised sector and the poorer in the society.” The three-phase polls are scheduled on November 22, 26 and 29, while the counting of votes for all the phases would take place on December 1 and results expected the same day. About 33.2 million voters are eligible to cast votes for 16 municipal corporations, 198 municipal councils and 438 Nagar Panchayats, which total 652 urban local bodies in UP. The 16 municipal corporations, 198 municipal councils and 438 Nagar Panchayats comprise 1,300, 5,261 and 5,434 wards respectively. A total of 11,389 polling centres and 36,269 polling booths would be set up for the three-phase polls.