Whither the emperor's sartorial sense?

Power politics

Whither the emperor's sartorial sense?

In a matter of months – which barely translates into seconds in the political lifetime of a nation – the street fighter-cum-activist called Arvind Kejriwal has become the Chief Minister of Delhi. The IRS officer-turned-aam aadmi’s neta, who few expected to reach anywhere but waste his breath crying corruption, has been crowned the ‘king of India’s Capital.’ 

Sadly though, his sartorial style has remained unchanged and unflattering of one who has come to occupy the high office in Delhi. The Chief Minister’s trademark bomber jacket thrown over grey sweater, his head and ears tightly wrapped around by a muffler and an aam aadmi cap perched on his head has been the subject of much good-humoured jokes, even derision. Jokes abound on social networking sites on how one must beware of the CM emerging from under any muffler at a turn of the street! Most fashion designers are aghast at the CM’s look and yet insist “it’s assuring and endearing.”

Noted fashion designer Ashley Rebello says, “The general image of a neta that an Indian has in his mind is a middle-aged, potbellied man sporting a starched white kurta-pyjama with a Nehru jacket and topi. Sadly, that is also the caricature of a corrupt Indian politico that has stuck over the years. The second category is of the former royalty turned into an MLA/MP who just needs an excuse to dive into his/her polo T-shirts, safari suits and chiffon sarees.”

“Arvind’s look is a pleasant departure from both which also helps him project himself as the model aam aadmi.” 

Designer Kapil Arora reminds us of the sartorial disaster committed by former Union Home minister Shivraj Patil when he changed suits nearly every hour while 26/11 played out in Mumbai, saying, “No one needs a leader like that anymore who is more obsessed with his looks than work and is completely out of touch with ground reality. In fact, I think, that’s what charmed the public into bringing Aam Aadmi and Arvind into power. Arvind should stay that way.”

“The minimalistic, earthy look has fetched accolades and political rewards to leaders elsewhere like Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa. It’s a time-tested formula, not totally unique, and safe to go with,” he adds.

Popular fashion blogger Komal Khulbe says any change in Arvind’s wardrobe, if required, should happen gradually. “Well, the truth is that he’s no more a street agitator but the CM of a State, so he will require to make a few modifications in the time to come. Say if he’s welcoming any foreign dignitaries, he can probably switch to formal suits. I am sure he wore those as an IRS officer as well. As long as he doesn’t overdo things, it’s fine.”
Designer Manish Tripathi, though, cautions the CM from becoming another Lalu in the name of being a common man,

“Please don’t become one Mr Kejriwal. We don’t want to see another down-to-earth CM with tufts of hair hanging out of his ear. As an aam aadmi myself, I would like to see a leader who is more ‘action-oriented’ than just indulging in ‘public posturing.’ A poor dressing sense is not equal to good governance. Ultimately, the public will be able to see through.” 

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