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Pilot swears off pagdi

- Rajasthan Congress chief’s vow to revive party
Sachin Pilot

Jaipur, Aug. 16: The pagdi has to make do without a prized scalp.

Sachin Pilot, head of the Congress’s Rajasthan unit, has vowed not to wear a turban — or don one received as a gift — till he revives the sagging fortunes of his party.

The same goes for putting on garlands, a traditional offering of welcome.

Pilot, who claims his August 14 pledge at a membership drive was “spontaneous”, said the Congress had suffered its worst defeat ever and he felt it was inappropriate to accept turbans and garlands.

“Instead of accepting garlands, we should put our heads down and ponder over the reasons for our worst defeat ever, both in the state and at the Centre. The decision not to wear a turban and (accept) garland(s) was spontaneous…. It was also a message to demoralised Congress workers that we need to work harder… and that we have the strength and maturity to do so,” the 37-year-old former Union minister told The Telegraph today.

The Congress won only 21 out of Rajasthan’s 200 Assembly seats in last year’s elections. In the Lok Sabha, it has just 44 MPs in a House of 540-plus.

Turbans are an important part of men’s attire in Rajasthan and also associated with the social status of a person as their colour, shape and the way of wearing them indicates the person’s caste, religion, region and profession.

But Pilot is determined: better to tie up the political loose ends than tie a pagdi.

Pilot’s turban vow came a day before the bright-coloured, long-tailed pagdi Narendra Modi wore at his first I-Day speech as Prime Minister set off a buzz. But while many have taken note of Modi’s “pagdi-tude”, Pilot has been panned.

Jyoti Kiran, a leader of the state’s ruling BJP, said in Rajasthan, turbans, besides being a “traditional symbol” of welcome, “add grace” to the personality. “The Congress’s grace was lost when it was trounced so badly. Pilot should have vowed not to wear a turban then and there only. Why now? I think it will be a very, very long time before he gets to wear a turban, unless of course he has done it as a cosmetic choice.”

Pilot, who lost his Ajmer Lok Sabha seat in this year’s summer elections, said it “hardly mattered” whether he wore a turban or not. “It’s not a big deal,” he added. “I have faith in democracy and know that what goes up, comes down.”

For now, the pagdi has come off.