The ‘cap politics’ in Himachal Pradesh may slip into the past with younger and new leadership of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as Congress not identified with caps.
Neither Chief Minister (CM), Jai Ram Thakur, nor Congress Legislature Party Leader, Mukesh Agnihotri wear Himachali cap in routine.
Even state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti and state Congress president, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu are not identified with caps.
This is in departure from the trend, as for over two decades, colours of the Himachali caps demarcated political loyalties. Especially, with former CM, Virbhadra Singh from Shimla district always donning a cap with green band and his rival, former BJP CM, Prem Kumar Dhumal wearing a cap having maroon band, as a matter of distinctive choice.
While different Himachali caps signify different regions in the state, the ‘green band’ and the ‘maroon band’ on caps almost became a trademark of Congress and the BJP respectively, as Singh and Dhumal called the shots in Himachal politics.
The supporters of two leaders (who became CMs alternatively since 1998) also started portraying political identity with similar caps, with the passage of time.
Even the ordinary folks would switch to caps with green or maroon bands, depending on which party forms the government. Folks in warmer areas, who don’t need a head gear, had taken to distinctive caps just for political signals.
Singh was so touchy about the colour of his cap, that if anyone presented him maroon cap, he would not relish it.
In previous Congress government, he once refused to accept the cap with maroon band, gifted to him by the then health minister Kaul Singh Thakur in a function in Shimla in the presence of the Union Health minister JP Nadda.
With BJP taking over the reigns in HP, the people, however, still gift the cap with maroon band to the CM, ministers or other BJP leaders in official or public functions as a trend. But the ‘cap politics’ is seemingly not going to stay for long now. This was evident during the first visit of CM, Jai Ram Thakur to his home district Mandi earlier this month, where he was presented a white Himachali cap worn in areas of Kullu district.
The first session of the state Assembly was witness to the changing trend. While many BJP leaders were not wearing any Himachali cap, some others were wearing the traditional Kullu cap with a multi-colour border.
In Congress, a prominent example was first time and youngest MLA of HP Assembly, Vikramaditya Singh (Virbhadra Singh’s son), who was wearing an exclusive Himachali cap, but with a maroon band.