Since yesterday, pictures and videos of two newly elected Trinamool Congress MPs, Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, are going viral. There have been comments and observations made, while some have applauded their sartorial choices others have been derogatory and downright abusive.
While their qualification as lawmakers remains debatable, especially considering their past experience, the moot point of this debate is whether politicians need to be judged by the clothes they wear or more importantly should there be a dress code for politicians?
The trend of wearing khadi and especially khadi kurta pajamas came from the freedom struggle after Gandhi's call to shun Imported fabrics and embrace local handlooms, and this trend continued post-independence as a branding element to remind people of the role that Congress had played in the freedom struggle. Leaders from other parties too preferred such traditional clothing as it was something most people wore. While most of the leaders remained honest in their dressing choices, some like Pandit Nehru, never missed a chance to flaunt a Saville Row suit when on a trip abroad.
Today this hypocrisy has deepened, especially when it comes to leaders of the Congress and some other parties. We see the Congress president flaunting his torn khadi kurta in a public rally and then see him wearing Burberry jackets and other expensive brands when away from the public spotlight. Same goes for his sister, who readily gets draped in simple cotton sarees during election time when she shuns her usual pant-suits and other fancy attires.
In today's time, when even farm labourers can be seen wearing denims and t-shirts, mostly thanks to eCommerce, how does changing into this “simple, traditional” khadi help these leaders? It doesn't, it only adds to the intellectual and moral hypocrisy they already display in their conduct.
There have been many leaders who have been savvy in their dressing and they have performed well as lawmakers, ministers, and politicians in general. You can see ministers like Rajyawardhan Rathore and Kiren Rijiju who are often seen dressed trendily and they are no less patriotic or committed than others. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis is mostly seen in his trademark blue shirt and at times even in denims. There is no doubt about his popularity over other khadi-wearing leaders from other parties. Times have changed and looking and behaving like common people, who incidentally do not wear khadi anymore, helps these leaders connect better with them.
There are exceptions among some senior leaders, of course. For example, PM Modi is known for his Modi kurta and churidar, but that is something that he has been wearing since his RSS days and he has remained consistent with this outfit throughout his days as the CM of Gujarat right up to now. The same can be said for leaders like Rajnath Singh and others.
In today's world, when nothing misses the social media, it only harms the image of leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindhia, Sachin Pilot, Tejasvi and Tej Pratap Yadav, etcectra, when their hypocrisy comes out in public. It will take a lot of effort for them to work on their political and moral hypocrisy but at least they can quickly do away with their sartorial hypocrisy.
New India doesn't need politicians who get into a sort of fancy dress during public appearances. We need people who are, at the very least, honest with their dressing choices, be it traditional or modern.
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