Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s pink caps outnumbered Ashok Tanwar’s tricolour ones in their contest at Rahul Gandhi’s kisan rally in New Delhi on Sunday. And when Tanwar, the Haryana Congress chief, spoke from the stage, the pink-capped Hooda supporters booed him, “Baith jao, baith jaoo,” and kept disrupting his speech.
The same crowd cheered Hooda when he spoke after Tanwar.
The two had clashed also during distribution of tickets for the assembly elections. Their battle on Sunday played out parallel to the claims and counter-claims between the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi. The two Haryana leaders had set the stage when each camp decided on a colour scheme for its supporters, with Tanwar himself wearing the tricolour cap. Tanwar, who had taken a delegation on the eve of the rally to senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s residence, had then announced that Congress workers would wear the “Gandhi cap” at the rally.
The Hooda faction, on the other hand, had provided pink caps to supporters statewide. “Everybody has a pink turban as it is worn on auspicious occasions, and those who did not have one were given one. And we succeeded in taking the maximum number of workers to the rally,” said a Hooda supporter. Workers were taken to Delhi primarily from Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonepat and the NCR.
Also on stage was Hooda’s son Deepender, as was Hooda rival Kiran Choudhry. Yet another rival of Hooda’s, Captain Ajay Yadav, told The Indian Express, “Certain elements from the state Congress tried to create trouble while Tanwar was addressing the rally. It was highly unfortunate and needs to be taken care of,” he said.
Sources close to Tanwar said the way he was booed was insulting. “It happened in full public view. We will raise the issue with the high command,” said a Tanwar supporter.
Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa in his address reminded everyone to keep individual interests aside for the sake of the party’s interests supreme. He has been facing rivalry himself, from former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.