While all eyes will be on the grandeur of the swearing-in ceremony, the first to take place inside a cricket stadium, heralding an end to years of Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra, city MLAs are all set to draw people’s attention towards their fancy attire. While no strict dress code is in place, and many politicians will be sticking to their Nehru jackets and neta attires, there will be some who promise to add colour to a very politco-studded affair.
And the one leading the group is 77-year-old MLA from Mulund, Sardar Tara Singh. Known for his signature style of draping a pagadi, Singh has put in considerable thought into what his pagadi would symbolise. “We want it to be a surprise. He is currently divided over wearing an orange pagadi, which goes with BJP’s saffron style, or a blue pagadi with white spots, the white to symbolise peace,” said Ranjeet, Singh’s son. “He will be in his trademark safari attire and the starched pagadi, a style he has been following since the 1970s.”
It is not simply about being stylish or standing out. Yogesh Sagar (52), MLA from Charkop, says that a lot has changed in perceptions and the way people dress these days, and it matters if one is talking of an elected representative. “The CM is dynamic. He is also fresh in his thinking and is mostly seen in a different, more professional attire. Mostly formal tailored pants, with a closed-buttoned jacket. I feel in the days to come, he will only continue to fine-tune his dressing to a more formal look,” said Sagar adding, that for him, it will always be a white jabba lehenga.
“I started wearing this from my college days, though I was not in politics then. There is a simplicity that comes with the dress, many people call it with different names. In some regions, the shirt is called kurta or kameez, but I have always called it this. Friday is actually the beginning of a long journey. I would want to start simple. During the freedom struggle, jabba and lehenga signified resilience. I find it symbolic too, hence wear it on most days,” he added.
Adding some Maharashtrian flavour to the event will be Manisha Chaudhary (53), a BJP MLA who had first decided to don an orange paithani saree, a traditional piece from her otherwise cotton-heavy wardrobe. “There is a certain happiness that comes when your party is in power after a long haul. We look to express that happiness and associate and everything with the home colour. But my daughter-in-law advised me to dress different, just to stand out. She surprised me last night with a new paithani,which I will wear to the swearing-in,” said Chaudhary. The “traditional Maharashtrian”, who dresses in “Mumbai-comfortable cotton sarees”, will be seen Friday in a peacock blue paithani, something new for her. She just hopes that the creases are not deep on the folds, with the two hour-long drive when her car leads 50 buses of cadre from her constituency. “I will wear my traditional jewellery to go with it,” she added.
There are also those in the BJP who are not up to experimenting. Malabar Hill’s fifth time MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha said he is going to wear a white shirt and a pair of black pants for the swearing-in ceremony. According to sources close to Lodha, he has worn the same outfit for the last four times he was sworn in as the Assembly constituency’s MLA. Same with BJP city president Ashish Shelar, who said he would stick to his usual attire of a white shirt and trousers.
With most politicians from other parties preferring to give the event a miss, Mumbadevi’s Amin Patel, who won on a Congress ticket, said he would opt for the conventional kurta-pajama with a waistcoat. “Last time I wore something else. This time, I am planning to wear kurta with a jacket,” said Patel, who has been elected as MLA for a third term.
For others, Friday is not a red-letter day, but dressing up for the swearing-in later is important. All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen’s only Mumbai MLA Warish Yusuf Pathan’s will not attend the ceremony.
Although WhatsApp and other social media profiles has him in a traditional salwar kameez, with a “siasat jacket”, he said, “I might skip the event as I am in Hyderabad. But If I would have attended it, it would have been in a sherwani.”