Call it the Congress recipe to add momentum to its poll campaign in Punjab. To the sounds of Punjabi dhol and songs, it was no less than a “baraat” scene as senior Congress leaders left aboard the ‘Punjab Congress Express’ after being flagged off by state Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh from Congress Bhawan in Chandigarh on Saturday.
For the “baraatis” it was quite a climbdown though: From their swank SUVs to the modest tempo travellers with no luxury seats or LCDs. Many VIPs had to leave their SUVS behind to sit on the cramped seats of the tempo travellers rented out by I-PAC, the team of party’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor who ensured the leaders travelled economy class. For the flag-off ceremony, the Congress Bhawan too was decked up not less than a bride. Bouquets of flowers were kept near the small stage from where Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh flagged off 13 mini-buses flanked by Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari and campaign committee chairperson Ambika Soni.
Amid loud cheering by partymen, the names of leaders were called by party’s senior vice-president Lal Singh, who played the emcee. He reminded each Congress leader on the mini-bus — which were flagged off in the serial number of one to 13 — that they will not get down from them till they complete their 37-day voyage. The departing leaders waived to lensmen and cheering leaders as if it would be a long voyage indeed.
Other than the words ‘Chahunda hai Punjab, Captain di sarkar’, the lyrics of the Punjabi song playing on the speakers fitted on both sides of the mini-buses were not discernible.
But just in case you missed out on it, ‘Chahunda hai Punjab, Captain di sarkar’ is pasted on all sides of the buses with big pictures of Amarinder and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi pasted in front of Punjab’s green fields with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders relegated to the line-up of pictures above them. With so many star comedians competing in Punjab elections, the Congress surely cannot afford to miss out on theatrics!