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War of caps: State which flaunts political loyalty on its head

If your cap is maroon in front, then you must be a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter. And if it’s green, then you are with the Congress.

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Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal

By Vishal Gulati 

Shimla, Oct 29: The electorate in Himachal Pradesh wear their loyalties not on their sleeves but on their heads. In other states, voters may prefer to maintain silence about their affiliation to a political party during the polls. But in this hill state, they pronounce their loyalty and support through their headgear.

If your cap is maroon in front, then you must be a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter. And if it’s green, then you are with the Congress.

The round Bushehri cap — named after an erstwhile princely state in the state — has a green front flap.

The concepts of “green” and “maroon” stem from upper and lower areas of the state. The green symbolises descendants of upper Himachal, while the maroon one represents lower Himachal.

It started with six-time Congress Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who loves to don a green flap headgear almost throughout the year. His supporters too prefer to wear this colour of cap to express their political solidarity with him.

Likewise, BJP leader and two-time Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has made the maroon flap his trademark.

“Donning caps has been a round-the-year tradition in the interiors of Himachal Pradesh where the winter spell is too long,” Roshan Lal Manta, 75, a former state government employee, told IANS.

But now people, including government employees, are wearing it to extend their affiliation to a particular political party.

He said since ‘Raja Saab’, as Virbhadra Singh is popularly known due to his roots in the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr, started wearing the green flap cap, the BJP’s Dhumal promoted the maroon one.

Manta, a former employee leader, said if the Congress is at the helm most of the employees start donning the green cap and if there is the BJP the maroon will be their first choice.

The BJP is garnering support on the social media through photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wearing the traditional Himachali ‘topi’.

The photo of Modi wearing the maroon cap during the remembrance ceremony for the Holocaust victims in Israel in July is taking a political hue in this election.

“Prime Minister Modi made the Himachali cap the crown in Israel. Thank you, tweeted Anurag Thakur, the BJP Member of Parliament from Hamirpur and former BCCI president — and Dhumal’s son.

Of course, there is a war over the colour of caps.

In the run-up to the polls, a cap reflecting the other’s political ideology infuriated Virbhadra Singh at an official function, but Prime Minister Modi maintained calm at another public function.

At a function in the state capital last month where Union Minister J.P. Nadda was also present, state Health Minister Kaul Singh welcomed Virbhadra Singh by donning a Himachali maroon flap cap and presenting a shawl, a common practice at all official functions.

Seeing the BJP’s trademark colour, the infuriated Chief Minister removed it immediately and wore his own green flap cap that he was holding.

Contrary to this, Modi didn’t lose his patience when he was offered a Congress ‘ideology’ cap by Virbhadra Singh at the foundation laying ceremony of a Rs 1,350 crore 750-bed hospital in Bilaspur town.

From the colour of passion maroon to the shade of envy green, Modi immediately changed the colour of his cap while addressing a public meeting just after the official function.

But it had more to do with political ideology than changing moods, remarked a political observer.

Elections to the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly will be held on November 9.

The votes would be counted on December 18, the day that will decide which “riot of colour” — green or maroon — will flutter again in the secretariat.

IANS

Election

AAP leader joins SAD ahead of Shahkot bypoll

Welcoming Walia into the party fold, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the youth leader had made a name for himself in a short period of time and would be an asset for the SAD in Jalandhar district.

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HS Walia

Jalandhar, May 20 : In a jolt to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), its leader from Doaba region H S Walia today joined the Shiromani Akali Dal along with his supporters ahead of the Shahkot bypoll scheduled to be held on May 28.

Walia said he was joining the SAD due to its “pro-people” policies as well as the party’s desire to take all sections of society with it.

“I earlier joined AAP because it professed idealism. However I slowly realised that the party had become thoroughly corrupt and was not concerned about Punjabis and their problems. Moreover, AAP is being run from Delhi by Arvind Kejriwal who does not give any weightage to the local leadership,” Walia alleged.

Welcoming Walia into the party fold, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the youth leader had made a name for himself in a short period of time and would be an asset for the SAD in Jalandhar district.

Walia would be duly adjusted in the party organisation and would be given important duties, he was quoted as saying in a release.

The SAD president said the manner in which both the Congress and the AAP leaders were joining the SAD was indicative of the functioning of the Congress government as well as complete disillusionment with the Aam Aadmi Party.

Badal said political leaders usually changed parties towards the fag end of any government’s tenure, but presently leaders were “leaving the Congress in droves” because the party had “lost all appeal among the masses” after reneging on promises made to the people.

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Kumaraswamy to be sworn in as chief minister on Wednesday

HD Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) CM candidate will be sworn in as next chief minister of Karnataka on Monday morning. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have been invited.

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siddaramaiah kumaraswamy

This paved the way for JD (S)’ H D Kumaraswamy to be sworn in as chief minister and for the hastily-formed Congress-JDS alliance to form the government. Kumaraswamy’s oath ceremony was initially slated for Monday (between 12 noon and 1.05pm, apparently on the advice of his father Deve Gowda’s astrologer). However, he later deferred it to Wednesday as May 21 is the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.

Earlier, Yeddyurappa resigns as the chief minister of Karnataka. Congress president Rahul Gandhi says BJP MLAs disrespected the National Anthem and walked out of the Assembly after Yeddyurappa stepped back. JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy will meet with the Governor of Karnakata Vajubhai Vala at 7.30 pm. The duo will meet to stake claim for forming the government. Ahead of Karnataka floor test on Saturday, Congress had accused the newly-elected Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa of bribing one of its MLAs.

The grand old party shared an audio clip of the alleged conversation between the two leaders on Twitter. This was followed by the allegation that two of its missing MLAs – Anand Singh and Pratap Gouda have been kept at the Goldfinch Hotel which is just 1 km away from the state Assembly.

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Trinamool’s all-conquering run in Bengal Panchayat polls

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Kolkata, May 17: The ruling Trinamool Congress looked set for a resounding win bulldozing all political rivals in rural West Bengal on Thursday in the vote count for the three-tier state Panchayat election, with the BJP emerging a distant second in almost all the districts.

The Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years till 2011, lay decimated in the third position, while the Congress was virtually wiped out in Monday’s polls, which were marred by widespread violence and allegations of strong-arm tactics and irregularities against the Trinamool.

As per latest reports, the state’s ruling party has won 20,277 Gram Panchayat (lowest tier) seats of 31,814 that were contested, while it was leading in 382 seats. The party has won 2,605 out of 6,125 contested Panchayat Samiti (middle tier) seats and were comfortably ahead in another 431.

The Trinamool Congress also seemed on track to win all 20 Zila Parishads.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the party workers for the massive win and dedicated the victory to the people.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which managed to bag 5,416 Gram Panchayat and 282 Panchayat Samiti seats, gave a tough fight to the Trinamool in two western districts — Purulia and Jhargram. The saffron outfit also led in 34 and 43 seats, respectively, in the two tiers of the rural body.

Another interesting development was the performance of the Independents, who have bagged more seats than the Left Front.

In South 24 Parganas district’s Bhangar that has been on the boil over the construction of a power grid sub-station by the state government in the last one year, Independent candidates backed by Jomi-Jibika-Bastutantra O Poribesh Rokkha Committee (committee for protecting life, livelihood, ecology and environment) won five out of the eight Gram Panchayat seats, where they had filed their nominations via WhatsApp.

The Panchayat Samiti was, however, won by ruling party strongman Arabul Islam who was arrested a day before the election for his alleged involvement in the murder of a local youth.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said his party was moving on the right track. “We have done reasonably well. Had the polls been free and fair, we would have done better.”

Sporadic incidents of unrest over the election results were reported from districts like Nadia where a group of miscreants allegedly ran away with ballot boxes. The counting of votes was halted for almost three hours in Nadia’s Majhdia after allegations of tampering with the ballot papers were received.

“There are some reports of unrest in the districts but the administrations concerned have already taken action. There are no reports of major violence from anywhere,” State Election Commission (SEC) Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told IANS.

In Birbhum district, BJP and Trinamool Congress activists clashed with each other outside a counting station. Police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the mob.

According to the state administration, 12 persons lost their lives on the polling day, out which six were confirmed have died in poll violence.

Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.

These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 Gram Panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 Panchayat Samiti seats and 203 of the 825 Zila Parishad seats.

The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.

IANS

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