New Delhi: In what is being widely termed as an embarrassing moment for the Congress, a large group of farmers was seen leaving the venue as soon as party president Sonia Gandhi began to address the “Kisan-Khet Mazdoor” rally in Delhi.

A group of farmers wearing pink turbans, believed to be former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s supporters who were issued a pink turban code for the rally, left Ramlila Maidan just as party vice-president Rahul Gandhi finished speaking and Sonia Gandhi took over the microphone.

While the sudden dispersal of the pink-turbaned group raised curiosity, the Congress party sought to downplay the movement. “It can happen in any rally. People left due to the hard weather. This is not an issue at all,” party leader Meem Afzal said.

Echoing the view, a police official said that although there were over 50,000 people who attended the rally on Sunday, many left the ground before the end as “it was too hot to stand for long hours”.

Incidentally, after the Congress’s rout in 2014 Haryana state assembly election under Hooda’s leadership, Sonia Gandhi appointed Kiran Choudhary, a known Hooda detractor, as leader of the Congress legislature party. Hooda, however, continues to hold sway in the state unit of the party.

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