To walk through the power corridors of Indian politics, power dressing should not be far behind. It’s not just political ideologies after all. Sartorial choices also matter. A man or woman dressed in traditional garb such as kurta pyjama or sari pops into your head when you think of the quintessential Indian neta. However, times have changed and so has the Indian politician. There are many who defy the ‘dress code’ and have either never worn traditional clothes or rarely wear them.
Ask them why and they will give you not one, but many reasons for taking a ‘different’ route. A majority of them are of the view that it does not matter what you wear and how you wear it. What matters is your calibre as a leader.
“Kurta pyjama is our traditional dress, but honestly speaking I don’t even remember the last time I wore it. I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable wearing it so I stick to my regular business suits because I feel confident in them. Even at home, I prefer wearing a tracksuit. Most importantly, what I wear is not how I’ll connect with the public. That will happen only when we sincerely work for their welfare,” says Akali MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali, who has never been spotted in traditional clothes.
Congress candidate Bhupinder Singh Sidhu, who will contest the Vidhan Sabha elections from Ludhiana South, says wearing a business suit or simply a pair of trousers and shirt with a smart jacket makes him feel more contemporary. He adds that kurta pyjama does not make him feel so. “I do respect kurta pyjama. It is a known fact that it is comfortable and has been stamped the politician’s dress in Punjab but wearing it is not my cup of tea. The public doesn’t bother about what you wear. They are more concerned about what you do for them. This is the 21st century so we must be modern not only in our dressing but also in outlook,” he says.
Akali candidate Gurmeet Singh Kular, who is fighting from Atam Nagar, and wears kurta pyjama only at home during summer says he does not want to be recognised for what he wears but for the work he does for the public. As far as style statement is concerned, he adds, “I love wearing smartly tailored trousers with colourful shirts and my new love - Modi jackets - or my business suits. Some of my workers keep telling me that I should start wearing kurta pyjama, but it is important for me to wear what I am comfortable and feel confident in. The public has always seen me dressed in formals and have no objections on what I wear despite the fact that traditional attire stands popular among other political leaders.”
Bharatiya Janata Party district president Parveen Bansal is also one of those rarely seen in traditional clothes. He says, “I may have been spotted in formals more but I usually wear whatever I feel like and have no specific choice. I wear kurta pyjama more during summer and if I am asked to wear it now, I will feel quite cold.”
What do politicians wear
Kurta pyjama: White is the most common and popular choice while some also go for light blue such as AAP leaders HS Phoolka and Harjot Singh Bains. Churidar pyjamas are also popular among Congress leaders
Turbans: You mostly spot Akali leaders in navy turbans while other Sikh leaders, such as from the AAP, have adopted yellow. Congress leaders have no specific choice of colour for turbans
Shoes: Those who wear formals, go for leather shoes while they pair sports shoes or other casual shoes with kurta pyjama
Jackets: ‘Modi’ jackets are more popular among BJP leaders and workers. During winter, basket jackets also become popular