The comeback rally of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday virtually became a show of strength by former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda through his supporters from his home district Rohtak.
The pink turbans of the Hooda's brigade stole the thunder of not just the faction led by Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar, but also the combined show of strength by Punjab's warring satraps — deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa.
With the advantage of Rohtak's proximity to Delhi, Hooda's men in pink occupied the front rows and also jeered at Tanwar when the latter was addressing the rally. The former Haryana CM also addressed the rally after Tanwar.
But no such balancing act was visible for the warring factions of Punjab. Former Punjab CM Amarinder, who has openly said Rahul needs more experience to take up the reins of the Congress, was not among the speakers from Punjab, which included Bajwa and Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar.
Though Amarinder was seated in the front row with former CMs, sporting saffron turban of the Jat Mahasabha, his detractors claimed his views on Rahul have not gone down well within the party.
But in the number game, it was clearly the saffron brigade of Amarinder that outnumbered Bajwa. In fact, several MLAs, on condition of anonymity, blamed the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) for not arranging buses.
“Each MLA was told to get two buses, one of which was to be arranged by the PPCC. But no such arrangement was made by the state chief. Also, unlike Haryana, which is near Delhi, Punjab's farmers arrived late from faraway places such as Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Muktsar. They got seats in the back rows," an MLA said requesting anonymity.
Congress leaders from Punjab also attributed less-than-expected crowd from the state to the wheat harvest season.
While the Punjab Congress chief had issued directions on how the banners on buses and stickers on private cars should have pictures of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Bajwa, the vehicles of his younger brother Fateh Jang Bajwa’s supporters had pictures of Sonia, Rahul and Fateh.