Red is the new alert for Prime Minister?

Akhilesh Yadav

Historian Ramchandra Guha in his book ‘India after Gandhi’ quotes a letter of RSS Chief Golvalkar where Golvalkar saw growing cadres of communists as a threat and wrote a letter to Sardar Patel offering support of RSS to counter this threat of ‘Red Alert’.

Now, the growing threat of Red is again in the news and the Prime Minister of India also see ‘Red’, as a danger.

People of Uttar Pradesh were already aware about Prime Minister Narendra Das Modi’s visit to Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) on 7th December due to multiple advertisements in the media. Gorakhpur is an important city in ‘Purvanchal’ region of U.P. The present Chief Minister of U.P. Yogi Adityanath belongs to this city as is a mahant of Gorakhnath temple. Recently there was speculation of places from where Yogi Adityanath will contest upcoming state elections until it is known that Gorapkhur will remain his constituency.

Earlier in 1980’s Vir Bahadur Singh represented this city and had become Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh during 1985 to 1988. Local people still remember Vir Bahadur Singh and his politics of development in the region. Institutions like Purvanchal University in Jaunpur, Sports University, Degree College and a planetarium in Gorakhpur are named after him.

Prime Minister Modi was in this city last month to inaugurate Rs. 9600 Cr. projects for three major institutions- AIIMS, ICMR and Hindustan Rasayan and Urvarak Limited and as per tradition, need and dignity of the constitutional post, he was supposed to talk about benefits that these new projects were going to provide. But probably in view of the upcoming state elections, the PM spoke on political tunes mostly against ‘Red Threat’ without naming Samajwadi Party.

This speech broadcasted by many television channels, and PM’s official twitter handle (@PMOIndia) shared tweets of these remarks wherein PM talked about ‘Red cap people’ (Laal topi waale) and described such people that they want to form government in UP and alleged them as sympathizers of terrorists. PM also claimed that these red cap wallahs even released terrorists from jails.

Needless to say that Red caps were linked with Samajwadi Party caps which socialist workers and party leaders often wear with respect and commitment. Though the PM didn’t name ‘Samajwadi Party’ anywhere in his speech and left the ‘Red cap’ words for an open interpretation before the public, an immediate response from people started coming. In this upcoming assembly elections, the main fight is believed to be in BJP and Samajwadi Party and it clearly reflects in minds of rival parties to an extent that even the PM couldn’t resist himself speaking against the rival party in a government function.

Veteran socialist leader and poet, former parliamentarian Uday Pratap Singh writes that this was probably a rare incident wherein a sitting Prime Minister misutilised the government’s stage for political benefit in such a way. He wrote that probably the PM saw a growing crowd in the SP rally and took it as ‘Red alert’ for him.

Uday Pratap Singh also talks about the broader reflection that ‘red color’ actually brings. He said Red is the color of revolution which has been a symbol of revolution in many countries including in France and Russia.

On another front, it became a color of spirituality when Kabir said ‘Laali dekhan mai chali, mai bhi ho gayi laal’. He wrote that ‘Red is also a color of love and many Indian women use it in Sindoor, Bindi and Mahavar. Red is also a symbol of life and blood represents it. ‘

In its political perspective and its use by Socialist leaders, Uday Pratap informs that when JP returned from Russia, he wore a Red cap because he took it as the color of change. Later, other socialist leaders including Lohia and then Janeshwar and Mulayam also wore it.

It is also seen that the Government of Uttar Pradesh ran many advertisements to showcase its achievements during Yogi’s regime. Unaffected by the reality on ground where social development still seems low, UP Govt. started a series of advertisements titled Before 2017 and After 2017 which is a case study for how diversionary politics are being played on public money by a state government for electrical gains. In one such advertisement published on the front page of Indian Express dated 03 Jan 2022, without naming Samajwadi Party, a person was shown in ‘Red Cap’ which is widely used by Samajwadi Party workers. It was shown in a negative sense as Yogi Aditynath knows that just by seeing red cap, people will connect it immediately with Samajwadi Party.

Recently when Samajwadi Party started its ‘Vijay Yatra’ rally, it fetched huge public support and it was seen that more people gathered to support this rally than sitting party BJP’s rallies. Ground reports, particularly from rural areas which are already affected by the weak economy and suffered during the lockdown, reflect that people are not ready to advocate sitting government.

Red caps seem to be a new symbol of resistance in U.P. and irrespective of what would be the final election results where all parties consider their prospects high, it is sure that Red is getting recognition, not only among people, but also in the minds of rival parties.

Ravi Nitesh is a social activist and freelance writer

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