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Party wear

Campaigning,clearly,requires a separate wardrobe. And there branded wear is quickly cast off for aam aadmi’s plain garb.

Written by Dipanita Nath |
May 13, 2009 2:16:18 am

They are the multi-wardrobe politicians. They have one look on the campaign trail and quite another off it

Campaigning,clearly,requires a separate wardrobe. And there branded wear is quickly cast off for aam aadmi’s plain garb. If Priyanka Gandhi campaigned in Amethi and Rae Bareli in cotton saris and kolhapuri chappals,she was togged out in a fitting top and formal black trousers to cast her vote in Delhi. Politicians’ unwritten dress code tilts towards the traditional in poll time-the kurta and the sari that help them to seamlessly blend with the masses-even though they are quite comfortable in westernwear for an evening out in the Capital.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi is often spotted in a white linen shirt and fawn pants on a night out in Delhi,but his election-tour wardrobe has been restricted to pristine-white kurta-pyjamas. The others in the babalog brigade,Milind Deora,Naveen Jindal and Sachin Pilot,too are nattily turned out in designerwear for social occasions,but prefer the Indian look for political rallies. Shallu Jindal has returned from her husband Naveen’s constituency Kurukshetra after campaigning for two weeks. She left behind her party attire of dresses and branded jeans and went for rallies usually clad in a salwar-kameez or a sari. “It would be odd to be the only person in pants in Kurukshetra. I’m a Kuchipudi dancer and I’m very comfortable in a sari,” says Shallu,who is off to a quick trip to South America before Counting Day. If another generation of politicians — like Lalu Prasad,Mulayam Singh Yadav,J Jayalalithaa or even Sonia Gandhi — sticks to one wardrobe,one image,all through their political lifespan,the new generation that is brought up on changing dress codes knows how to flaunt one look for parties and quite another for party meetings. And they also know that Sarah Palinesque extravaganza just wouldn’t cut here.

Baijayant “Jay” Panda,the BJD candidate from Kendrapara,Orissa,prefers chic cotton kurtas at all times,but the hue changes at rallies. “While campaigning,I wear green kurtas to complement the party colour,” he says. “When I asked my wife Jaggi to campaign for me,she chose to wear traditional Sambalpuri saris,although as a businessperson,her daily attire is normally suits and officewear.”

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Anas Baqai,secretary of the Congress candidate from Moradabad Mohammed Azharuddin,says that while the former cricketer switches between jeans-tees-glares and kurta-pyjamas on the campaign trail,wife Sangeeta Bijlani has ditched her party threads for salwar-kameez,with just over-sized sunglasses as a fashion statement. “There are many villages in his constituency with a largely conservative population. She has to fit into the traditional look of the wife. Jeans won’t do,salwar-kameez will. When required,she even covers her head,” says Baqai. What about the sari? “Oh no,” he exclaims. “She wouldn’t be able to walk fast enough in a sari.”

Jitendra Singh,the Congress candidate from Alwar,took to the traditional Rajasthani turban,the saafa,to escape the horrid heat on the campaign route. And soon he began adding the saafas he was gifted at villages to his collection,which has about a thousand turbans now. Meanwhile,his wife Ambika,a St Stephen’s alumna and ace shooter,discarded her pretty party dresses and went from one village to another in a sari,her head demurely covered. Singh says that he stayed with the uniform “kurta-pyjama this year and Ambika stayed in step in traditional clothes”. “But during the Vidhan Sabha election in Rajasthan,I wore blue jeans and T-shirts,” he adds. “The youth relate to that.”

The style,always,has a political statement.

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