With schools reopening, the demand for notebooks and stationery items have seen a marked rise and as parents throng Appa Balwant Chowk in Pune’s Shaniwar Peth looking for good deals, political parties are also setting up stalls to sell notebooks at heavy discounts as part of “social responsibility” initiatives.
Manned by political workers, shops set up by the BJP, Shiv Sena (UBT) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) are offering attractive discounts of up to 25 to 40 per cent on the MRP. Ganpati mandals such as Tambadi Jogeshwari have also set up discount stalls.
While products of well-known brands are available here at up to 25 per cent discount, the price-cut was higher for locally manufactured notebooks at 35-40 per cent, The Indian Express found. For instance, a notebook with an MRP of Rs 73 was being sold at Rs 55, a local 400-page bound notebook with an MRP of Rs 180 was available at Rs 120.
“We have all kinds of customers. Many affluent people buy from us, besides those from weaker sections. There are people who come to us year after year. For us this is a social cause,” said Prashant Jadhav of Bal Vikas Mandal, which is associated with the BJP. Jadhav said it was his 26th year setting up the stall.
Open from 9 am to 10 pm all days of the week since mid-May, these stalls will be around till the end of June. “We only make 1-2 per cent of profit on the sales which is spent on operations. The only motive is to help people,” said Nilesh Dhumal at the MNS stall.
Sanket Sanas, who owns Sangram Book Centre, has also set up a notebook stall. “The cost of education is increasing with each passing year and many students can’t afford to buy notebooks at MRP. We are doing our bit to help them,” he said.
Local bookshop owners said the temporary stalls did affect their business, but they did not mind. “We always give a discount of 20-25 per cent on notebooks round the year, but during this time we also sell it at a profit of just 2-3 per cent. Our business is slightly affected because of these temporary stalls but they are doing social service so nobody objects,” said a staffer of Aryan Book Agency.