The Samajwadi Party has gone ‘black & white’ to kill its ‘gray’ image. Call it the dress code or uniform, the party has one in place as part of its image management. The code is supplemented with grooming and behaviour guidelines as well.
All this is strategic to erase the “rowdy and goonda” perception in public memory and replace it with a “smart and we mean business” image.
The image makeover is the strategy of state president Akhilesh Yadav and his team of backroom boys. “The whole thing has been consciously planned,” says Abhishek Mishra, 34, a former IIM Ahmedabad assistant professor and now the party candidate for the Lucknow North seat.
The basic remains the white khadi. But there is a tweaked-up concept of its quality, tailoring and how to wear it to give the party a uniform and corporate look.
The dress for sunny or warm days is a smart well-stitched white khadi kurta-pyjama (or dhoti) with a small 1x1.5 inch party flag sticker on the left breast pocket. On nippy days, SP men “should” wear a black waistcoat over the white khadi and, if it is very cold, a black full-sleeve coat with the same party badge on the left breast pocket of the coat.
The footwear — shoes, sandals or chappal — should be in black leather. Socks too should be black. Other guidelines — one should be well-groomed with well-shaven or well-kept beard, no-paan chewing while in public meetings or top-buttons open.
Mishra, who is an expert in strategy and innovation, had been working in Akhilesh Yadav’s backroom for the past two years and last month chucked his IIM job for his assembly candidature.
“The party’s image was in a mess the way it was perceived by people. I saw how in the US elections an image is consciously planned,” said Mishra.