Where your cap’s colour denotes political leanings!

July 8th, 2008 - 10:05 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, July 8 (IANS) Every time the government changes in Himachal Pradesh - from the Congress to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and vice versa - people’s colour preferences too change, specially when it comes to their caps. The change in guard in the state secretariat - the last one took place in January this year - means the colour of the traditional Himachali ‘topi’ (cap) worn by politicians and bureaucrats also changes.

Politicians and their yes-men who donned a ‘Bushehri topi’, named after a former kingdom in Shimla district, with a green band on the front-fold to impress former Congress chief minister Virbhadra Singh, have now started wearing caps with a maroon band, the favourite colour of incumbent BJP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Though the design of caps worn by people is similar, it is the colour that makes all the difference … politically!

“There is a lot of political colour attached to these caps. In Himachal, it literally proves on whose side you are,” admitted a senior bureaucrat requesting anonymity.

Unlike the lower hills, donning caps has been a tradition in the upper Himachal areas. And over the years, while the green band cap is identified with the Congress, the maroon band is the BJP trademark.

Virbhadra Singh, who belonged to the erstwhile royal family of Bushehr, has now taken exception to the chief minister’s love for the maroon cap and said he would sport a different coloured cap every day.

Even the website of the government’s public relations department has a photo of Chief Minister Dhumal donning a maroon cap.

Most shopkeepers in Shimla town say the ‘Dhumal versus Singh’ rivalry does pay off commercially.

“Every day we are selling five to six maroon coloured caps and the sales are increasing with each day,” said Kapil Thakur, a shopkeeper in the Lakkar Bazaar here.

“As far as buyers are concerned, they are of all age groups. But most of them are government employees and politicians,” he added.

But for tourists, most whom take back a Himachali topi as a memento, the colour really doesn’t matter.

“We are buying a maroon coloured cap because its band is attractive. I don’t know the politics around caps,” said Navin Khanna, a buyer from Jammu.

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