New Delhi:The Gandhi cap, revived by the Anna Hazare movement and now adopted by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has become a visible symbol of protest for political parties and other social organisations as well.
Following in AAP’s footsteps, the white-coloured boat-shaped cap, which was first popularised by Mahatma Gandhi during the Indian independence movement, is increasingly being worn by people with their protest messages inscribed on it.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may rail against AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal, but it has taken to wearing similar Gandhi caps – albeit saffron-coloured and with the message: Modi – the only option.
During Anna Hazare’s protest, the multitudes of India Against Corruption (IAC) supporters wore the white caps with the words: I am Anna. The latest to emulate the symbolic protest mode are members of the Anjan Aadmi Welfare Trust. The Anjan Aadmi, or the unknown man, takes a dig at AAP’s “common man” tag through its black caps with the words “Anjan Aadmi” in white.
The Anjan Aadmi Welfare Trust held a protest recently against the AAP government at the Jantar Mantar here, wearing black caps.
Asish Dubey, secretary of the trust, told IANS that AAP is “playing with the sentiments of the people.”
“We are opposed to AAP coming to other states until they rule Delhi for five years,” Dubey said.
Members of the Anjan Aadmi Welfare Trust, based in Allahabad, claimed they don’t belong to any political party but had opposed AAP leader Kumar Vishwas when he held a rally in Amethi. They said their caps were available in Delhi as well as in Uttar Pradesh markets at Rs.5 a piece.
Last week another variant of the protest cap was seen outside the Delhi Secretariat.
A group of disabled people were holding a protest against a trust run by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife and wore caps that read “Hum Viklang Hain” (We are disabled) and “Humare paise wapis dilao” (give our money back).
Around 200 disabled people from Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh, Khurshid’s Lok Sabha constituency, had gathered outside the Delhi Secretariat demanding that the money sanctioned by the central government to the trust to provide them with wheelchairs be given to them.
One of the protesters said they were wearing the Gandhi caps to “show their anger”.
The BJP took to wearing saffron-coloured caps within two weeks of the AAP forming the government in Delhi after last December’s assembly elections. BJP activists protesting against the Kejriwal government were seen wearing the saffron caps with the words “Modi for PM” on both sides.
The India Against Corruption (IAC) members wear the white caps with the name and logo of their outfit. However, it was Hazare who had resurrected the Gandhi caps during his anti-corruption crusade in Delhi and his fast demanding the government pass the Lokpal bill in parliament.
AAP leaders, including many of the ministers, continue to wear the caps – with the words – “Main hoon aam aadmi” (I am a common man) and “Mujhe swaraj chahiye” (I want self rule).
Also, during the entire assembly election campaign, AAP volunteers stood out in their Gandhi caps.
Rajinder Pal Mehra, a trader who deals in the AAP caps, told IANS that sales were rather dull nowadays. “During elections we used to print 5,000 caps per day. But now we print around 2,000 caps in three days. But still it is good business,” Mehra told IANS.
(Alok Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)