Ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, red caps have gained centre stage and are roiling the political waters in the state.
Though symbols have their own importance, political parties indulge in attacking each other on their flags, banners, posters.
The controversy over red caps started from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s address was disrupted by Samajwadi Party (SP) lawmakers who were donning red caps.
Taking a jibe at them, Adityanath had said: “Someone is wearing a red cap or a green cap. Don’t know whether this has become a tradition. Don’t know whether these people wear a cap even at home?”
Adityanath also narrated an incident, saying that a two-and-a-half-year-old child saw a protester wearing a cap and identified him as a goon, post which the SP lawmakers created an uproar.
During a rally in Gorakhpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the SP, saying that “laal topi waale” (those wearing red caps) were like a “red alert” for the state.
If political analysts are to be believed, these statements have been made deliberately so that the opposition attacks them and both can trade barbs.
In response to the ruling party’s jibe, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, along with his colleagues, went to the Assembly wearing red caps.
Akhilesh also replaced his Facebook and Twitter profile pictures with one in which he is wearing a red cap.
Following Akhilesh, his party leaders and supporters have also started replacing their pictures with ones showing them in red caps.
Now, whenever Akhilesh leaves for a programme or rally, he wears a cap.
Earlier, Akhilesh did not wear caps, but when his father and SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav asked him to do so, he started to don it regularly.
In the ongoing tussle between the SP and the BJP, the AAP has also jumped in.
Rajya Sabha MP and AAP’s UP in-charge Sanjay Singh shared the Prime Minister’s photo on Twitter in which the latter can be seen wearing a black cap, saying people wearing a black cap have a black heart and mind (their mind and heart are not good).
Senior political analyst Ratanmani Lal said that in the present era, leaders of a political party cannot be identified only by symbols.
The BJP is associated with the saffron colour but all do not wear it, the BSP (blue) but Mayawati never wears blue, the SP (green), Congress (white) and the SP also with a cap.
The SP chief has made it an identity mark of the party due to which even without taking its name, it can can be attacked.
The BJP has tried to send across a message to the electorate of Uttar Pradesh that they have to be wary of the SP, but the latter will benefit indirectly.
The BJP pointed it out to attack the SP but it worked as a blessing in disguise for the latter as with more people wearing red caps, they will be recognised better.