Cong’s ‘black protest’ against price rise
New Delhi: Black was the colour of the protest for the Congress on Friday –from Kurtas and headgears to scarves and sarees– were among the sartorial choices the party leaders opted for as part of a novel protest to draw the government’s attention to what they said was a “grim” economic situation in the country.
The 136-year-old party which is known for its traditional approach to protests sprang a surprise with what many saw as an out-of-the-box messaging by deciding to have black as the dress code for its nationwide protest against price rise, hike in GST on essential items and unemployment.
The most striking sartorial choice was by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Malikarjun Kharge, who wore a black kurta, a black turban and a white dhoti, turning heads during the Congress protest.
While the male Congress MPs were seen sporting black kurtas, shirts, scarves, and headgears, the women leaders also wore black with elan led by party chief Sonia Gandhi who wore a printed crisp saree with a black border and a black blouse.
Rahul Gandhi, who addressed the press conference at the AICC headquarters in the morning wearing a white shirt and a black armband, changed to a black shirt for the protest in the Parliament complex and a subsequent march of party leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan during which they were stopped and detained.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wore a black salwar suit as she staged a sit-in protest outside the AICC headquarters here. Amid dramatic scenes, she was forcibly put in a vehicle by the police and taken away.
Former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son and MP Karti Chidambaram sported black shirts with white ‘veshtis’ (type of dhoti), while Shashi Tharoor was seen in all blacks — kurta, trouser and ‘Sadri’.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress’ deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi, K C Venugopal, Deepender Hooda, Naseer Hussain and Imran Pratapgarhi, among others, were also seen wearing black.
Asked about the idea of wearing black, Gogoi told PTI, “during the debate on price rise in Parliament, BJP members said they can’t see inflation, so today by wearing black we are expressing the anger our people are feeling, we are expressing that they (government) open their eyes to the reality of India today.”
“Even the RBI Governor has conceded that there is high inflation but the BJP MPs and the finance minister have lied to people of India on the floor of the House that there is no inflation,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Shama Mohamed said the aim was to send a message of protest.
“It is a black day as Rahul ji said there is no democracy, democracy is dead in India. They are not listening to anything about inflation, so we are protesting,” she told PTI.
The protesting MPs of the opposition party raised slogans against the government demanding that the GST hike on essential items be withdrawn, with party chief Sonia Gandhi standing with the women MPs holding a banner outside gate number 1 of Parliament.
The protesters were stopped by the Delhi Police and not allowed to proceed towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Sonia Gandhi did not take part in the march. The other MPs were detained by police at Vijay Chowk.
Later a host of Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, were detained by police amid dramatic standoffs outside Parliament and the AICC headquarters here.
Over 60 party MPs released after about 6 hours in detention
New Delhi, Aug 5 (PTI) More than 60 Congress MPs, detained by the police during the party’s protest in Delhi against price rise and unemployment, were released after about six hours, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Friday.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, K C Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Gaurav Gogoi were among the MPs detained and taken away from Vijay Chowk, outside AICC headquarters and other places in the national capital.
“Congress MPs have just been released after being detained for almost 6 hours for protesting peacefully and democratically against price rise, unemployment and GST,” Ramesh, who had also been detained, tweeted.
The Congress has opposed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike on essential items.
In a statement, the Delhi Police said a total 335 protesters, including 65 MPs, had been detained under the Delhi Police Act in order to “maintain law and order” in the area.
Intimation about detention of MPs/MLAs is being sent to the respective competent authorities, the police said.
The protesters were appropriately warned about the prohibitory orders in force in the area and repeatedly requested to disperse from the area, the police said.
However, they continued the protest, thereby violating prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC, it said.
“When the police personnel moved in to contain the situation, the protestors tried to obstruct the police officers from performing their duties, manhandled and injured them. Appropriate legal action is being taken into the matter,” the police said.