For our politicians, days of crumpled kurta, ruffled hair, hawai chappals are long over. With an increasing number of voters following their netas on social media and even getting to meet them personally at coffee-meets and jan sabhas, looking suave in politics has become just as important. Swipe across photos on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and you will see the candidates looking dapper in crisp kurtas and fine handloom ensembles.
There’s no denying the charm of a handloom sari or mulmul kurta paired with a vegetable-dyed Ajrakh dupatta or a freshly starched Chanderi one. No one understands that better than Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher. The #100sareepact and ‘Nari in a Sari’ groups may be trending only now but for Kirron Kher, the love affair with the six yards started many years ago. She has an enviable collection that includes everything from Kanjeevarams, Patolas, Uppadas to Maheshwaris and more. It’s taken her years to curate her collection with much help from her go-to designer, Gaurang Shah. It’s no surprise that when she had to file her nomination earlier this week, Kher pulled out a chequered Sambalpuri cotton sari in black and white.
“These are busy times and I don’t put that much effort in deciding what I have to wear,” quips Kher, who swears by cotton and mulmul fabrics in this sweltering heat.
Kher always manages to pull in the crowds for her Ru-ba-ru meets and it’s no surprise that women are in awe of her sartorial choices. “I like the fact that she’s not only easy to talk to but also looks effortlessly chic. I think it’s easy to relate to her,” says Nidhi Malik, who met Kher recently during her visit to the Sector 8 market. When out campaigning, the BJP candidate is always dressed in long handloom kurtas, paired with a churidaar or palazzos. Her bagru or ajrakh printed and block printed Kota dupattas, draped to the side, have become her signature style. Don’t be surprised if you find her in an ‘Anokhi’ ensemble that you had your eyes on.
Daily meetings, walk-through in markets, door-to-door campaigning is what keeps the candidates on their toes.
“Sometimes we end up walking 15 to 16 kms in a day,” says Avinash Singh Sharma from the newly-launched Chandigarh Ki Aawaz Party. With summer temperatures peaking in the last couple of days, it only helps Sharma that his party symbol is a hat. When he’s out campaigning, Sharma is togged in well-tailored kurta-pyjamas, teamed with a linen jacket (in mostly pastel tones), with a paper hat on his head. “If you are dressed in formal trousers and shirt, you will only be able to walk for an hour. I find the kurta-pyjama as an ideal outfit for canvassing. I prefer mine to have a loose fit,” says Sharma.
The regulation white kurta-pyjama might be a staple in a politician’s wardrobe but it’s never bought off-the-shelf. Congress candidate from Chandigarh seat, Pawan Kumar Bansal, has his trusted tailor coming home for as long as he can remember. The same goes for Harmohan Dhawan, known for his crisp white linen kurta-pyjamas, paired with a topi since he joined AAP.
“My father has always worn the kurta-pyjama and when it was cooler, he would pair it with a Nehru jacket,” informs Pawan Kumar Bansal’s son, Manish Bansal. The former Union Minister has a liking for pastel hues too when it comes to his Nehru jackets and has an enviable collection in beige, pale blue and navy blue.
Since he begins his day early, Bansal is always sporting comfortable shoes. A popular shoe brand is said to be a favourite with most candidates for its comfort, while Kher steps out in her trusted wedge sandals. Given the sweltering heat, Kher’s trusted aide are also her sunglasses by a well-known luxury label. “More than anything else, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated,” she signs off.