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Jai Ram Thakur’s appointment as Himachal CM may put a cap on ‘topi politics’

Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh wears a green band cap, while former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal sports a maroon band cap. Over the years these two colours had come to symbolise the two different political alignments.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2017 00:23 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Jai Ram Thakur,Himachal Pradesh,BJP
Over the years, green and maroon caps have come to symbolise different political alignments in the hill state.(Deepak Sansta/HT Photo)

The BJP’s decision to anoint Jai Ram Thakur, 52, as the next chief minister, not only spells a generational shift in the state leadership, but is also a sendoff to cap politics. In Himachal, political loyalties were denoted by the colour of caps.

Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh wears a green band cap, while former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal sports a maroon band cap. Over the years these two colours had come to symbolise the two different political alignments.

Not only leaders, party workers also used to wear their loyalty on their heads. One could easily discern a person’s party affiliation by merely looking at the color of his cap. But this cap culture is all set to take the backseat, at least for the next five years as the CM-designate Jai Ram Thakur wears no cap. In Peterhoff, when BJP was deliberating over the chief minister’s name, many BJP workers, especially from Mandi’s Seraj region, had come wearing the multi-coloured Kullu cap.

Occasionally seen with the maroon cap, Thakur, who hails from Seraj, prefers to remain bareheaded.

Shanta Kumar, BJP’s first chief minister who is currently a Lok Sabha member from Kangra, used to wear the multicoloured Himachal cap. “I think we should get over the topi politics now. It has divided our culture. When you wear any of these two colours (maroon and green) people paint you as either a BJP or Congress loyalist,” groused NK Khanna, a Sanjauli resident.

Earlier, at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bilaspur rally in October, all leaders sitting on the dais had worn the maroon cap. Even Modi sported the same colour. However, earlier in the day when he inaugurated the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Kothipura in Bilaspur, the then Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh had presented him with a green cap.

Cap politics used to often ignite a war of words. For instance, when Virbhadra rejected the maroon band cap offered by his cabinet colleague Kaul Singh Thakur, at a government function in the presence of Union health minister JP Nadda, Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur was quick to slam him for dishonouring the Himachali cap.

First Published: Dec 26, 2017 22:50 IST