New Delhi: Black was the colour of the protest Friday for the Congress. From kurtas and headgears to scarves and sarees – all 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 India.
The 136-year-old party is known for its traditional approach to protests. However, Congress 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, KC Venugopal, Deepender Hooda, Naseer Hussain and Imran Pratapgarhi, among others, were also seen wearing black.
Gogoi was asked about the idea of wearing black. “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,” Gogoi said.
“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,” Gogoi pointed out.
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 (BJP) are not listening to anything about inflation, so we are protesting,” Shama stated.
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 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, were detained by police amid dramatic standoffs outside Parliament and the AICC headquarters here.