Monday, 23 May, 2022
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Why Modi gets away with Maybach specs, Rs 10 lakh suit but Rahul with Burberry jacket can’t

It’s not ‘what’ Narendra Modi wears, it’s ‘why’ he chooses to dress the way he does that seems more subliminally political in its intent.

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There was once a monk who drove a Ferrari. Then came a ‘fakir’, a ‘chaiwala’ who wears Maybach sunglasses worth Rs 1.4 lakh. The politics of fashion in India, and any debate on it, have undergone a drastic change ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. Jawaharlal Nehru’s achkans or ‘Nehru jacket’ as they are known, Indira Gandhi’s simplistic yet ethereal sarees, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s timeless dhotis, and Jayalalithaa’s iconic chiffon and cotton sarees have all been widely discussed.

But there’s something about Modi’s sartorial choices that makes people defend him when he wears fashionable and expensive clothes and accessories. 

Anybody else in his place would be lambasted, just like Rahul Gandhi was for his Burberry jacket. 

I’m no fashion expert so I will keep to the political side of it. It’s not ‘what’ Narendra Modi wears; it’s ‘why’ Narendra Modi chooses to dress the way he does that seems more subliminally political in its intent.

Also read: Aaditya Thackeray gets away with things that Rahul Gandhi can’t

Appropriating iconic clothes

Narendra Modi is a fashionable man, but the story of the swanky clothes he wears doesn’t end there. The man was born for the camera. And he is unapologetic about it. From pictures outside a forest in saffron robes to sashaying down the courtyard of Kedarnath with a tiger print stole thrown over his shoulder while it drags on the floor just like the supermodels do it on a ramp, Narendra Modi has made many political statements through his power dressing.

The way Modi chooses to present himself speaks a lot about the attitude he developed around his personality soon after his first tryst with controversy over his clothes. His custom-made “Narendra Damodardas Modi” pinstriped suit had many grumbling over the indulgence of our prime minister, who came to power by influencing people to buy into his past identity of a “chaiwala”. Reports said that the suit was worth Rs 10 lakh.

The negative publicity against that suit didn’t deter Modi from dressing in full regalia thereafter. He’s seen donning thought-out outfits every time he makes a public appearance. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed during an interaction in Goa in 2016 that Narendra Modi “never repeats his clothes” and one simply has to google his name and look at the images tab for proof. I actually googled. His statement reminded me of Jayalalithaa who was known for apparently never repeating a saree and owned 10,500 of them.

And then there was PM Modi’s much-hyped visit to Kedarnath, which saw him wearing two different sets of outfits the same day. A saffron robe for the cave where he meditated on clean white sheets. Another was a ‘jobba’, which is very Tagore-esque, with a saffron waist belt inspired by Swami Vivekananda. Both Tagore and Vivekananda are from West Bengal, which incidentally was set to vote the very next day, in its last phase in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

This also brings us to how Modi has appropriated many iconic clothing items. For example, the ‘Nehru jacket’, which is now being called the ‘Modi jacket’. Or the image of a frail bapu wrapped in khadi cloth has now been replaced by a Narendra Modi in crisp khaki kurta spinning a charkha. Modi through his clothes has juxtaposed himself with legends of India’s political history even as he criticises them endlessly. His BJP has removed Gandhi’s image from most advertising campaigns and only keeps the glasses as a representation of the Mahatma.

Also read: With Burberry quilted jackets, Rahul Gandhi brings street style to Congress

Keeping it real

The viewing of the recent solar eclipse, for which Modi wore Maybach sunglasses, sealed his image as an “aspirational” dresser. Who doesn’t want to dress well and look good? Narendra Modi is ensuring that India’s youngsters see him like that. And they did. Many of his ardent fans defended him sporting expensive sunglasses.

Modi also seems to be making controversial choices for bigger political ends — an image that he knows will most likely be picked by international media to establish himself as a leader who dresses contemporary and modern. In fact, Modi, through his official handle on Twitter, replied to a Twitter user asking the person to enjoy making memes of his images. Narendra Modi is definitely owning his controversies.

This is in sharp contrast to how politicians in India were imagined to dress a certain way up until recently. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been criticised endlessly for his Burberry quilted jacket, which he repeats every winter and has now ditched it for ugly red Kejriwal-style sweaters.

Politicians were traditionally meant to be simple and austere to represent being in the service of society. But we all know that politicians, especially in India, are anything but simple and unostentatious. And Modi has shattered this veneer for which many people like him even more. He is keeping it real. He is unabashed about his “expensive” taste in fashion, which obviously makes him look good. What works to his advantage is his total disassociation from his family, which would otherwise make his indulgence seem “corrupt”, much like how he accuses the “Gandhi” family.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.

Also read: Modi tries to see the solar eclipse, becomes a meme — and Twitter is ‘enjoying’


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  1. He is paying from his pocket…!!!!

    That was hilarious….

    He can’t pay that much on his own baby…. no way….

    He is stealing from taxpayers’s money…

    • Aaaah, I am sure you caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

      By the way can you also Google and find what happened to the suit ?

      Hint: suit – auction – proceedings – namo gange’

      Try it out, possibly next time you can be a little more educated before posting.

  2. Good bhakth keep doing puja…. no comparison between Gandhi’s and former chai seller…he came from class 4 status wants to wears 10lakh suits per event and his salary is 3 lakhs..RTI says modi buys his own clothes ..can anyone bhakht justifies..this

  3. We shall see the leaders through the glasses we wear. We shall see what we want to see. World moves on self and group ( in India caste) interest.

  4. ZAINAB SIKANDER the difference that you dont want to see your relative as he has muslim blood and fake surname and he buys with looted money and our PM check google duffer he never waste money public loves him and gift him and also duffer check he donates all his salary to children education even to your community so check before you prove yourself dumbo

  5. Modi from his very humble beginnings has reached where he is today through sheer hard work, perseverance, capability and ofcourse his very sharp intelligence.
    Rahul Gandhi, Aka Pappu was born with a silver foot in his mouth and Owes his position only to his name, He has no capability of hard work, no persistence or perseverance and dubious education credentials and is used to Absolute luxury.

    For an ordinary citizen being Modi is aspirational, a role model that one tries to emulate. And Rahul G is someone they don’t want their children to become. Let’s face it, he is a duffer.
    So when Modi wears what he does, he is seen as someone who has earned it and deserves it, and when Rahul wears what he does, he is seen either trying to fake it ( kurta with jeans ) or when wearing expensive brands, a बाड़ें बाप का बच्चा

    • Modi is Fake – through and through. Only the blind-bhakts and paid IT-cell guys can praise him still. Open your eyes and see Modi for what he is – a man obsessed with his own image even while his position is increasingly being usurped by his own home minister.

  6. It is an interesting world. We have a bunch of male leaders (Trump, Boris, Modi) – right wing showmen. And we have some women leaders (Jacinda Ardern, Nicola Sturgeon, and perhaps now Sanna Marin) – down to earth, pragmatic.

    • We see what we want to see.

      Yes the world is polarised now and the solution is not left not right but centre.

      Liberal are/were doing the same thing as conservative, former r doing behind the scenes latter by chanting. Look at Obama’s era ,Tony Blair’s or trudo’s, Hasina’s, Macron’s, liberal policymakers are no different as there policy changes based on situation. Political parties run election based on ideology but run the country based on situation.

      All the Muslim majority countries are extremely conservative (including Malaysia and Indonesia)
      All Communist country run with iron fist at top.
      No country is perfect but
      then comes the Scandinavian countries such as Iceland Sweden Switzerland
      It’s different because people living there are ideologically at centre/neutral so the governments affiliation reflect it’s people.

      So the conclusion is no government can run polarised society, to change the society people need to change.
      Solution is people need to stand at centre/unbiased/neutral.

  7. OMG yes .. India has so many colorful clothes! Do our politicians have to dress up as if they are going to a funeral?

    The red muffler was a bit loud but those glasses fit him well.

    I wonder who the official wardrobe / designer / get up person / team is for the PM?

  8. If threaten directly or through some one then getting away is easy and you can continue to do so until some Man stands up. With bhakta and slave media surrounding the only Man seems to challenge Modi and his showmanship either 3 crore suit or gogles of fance and useless foreign trip , is Rahul Gandhi. He may be ineffective today but future definately belongs to him.

    • Congress cannot win with Rahul Gandhi/ Gandhi family at helm. Congress need to change so does it’s ideology countering every move of BJP is not ideologically relevant anymore, currently they are moving too left that will cost them if they don’t come to the centre like Indira Gandhi era.

    • Either keep dreaming or learn from Corbyn. When most country bhakta, dynasty slaves will keep losing. Change your leader Pappu or perish.

    • Style cannot eclipse substance; there is a need to communicate with citizens instead of staring at endless abyss, unless he is a genuine astronomy buff. This country still has Dharavi and many other ghettos.

  9. These things don’t really matter. We have always been ruled by kings. People know their rulers live better than the richest tycoons. Most dynasties would make it to the Forbes list. What ordinary Indians expect is to be governed well, to see continuing improvements in their lives. Tragic when that part of the compact between rulers and the governed breaks down.

  10. The pictures are so obviously fake and staged any one with a little sense
    can see through it.It actually looks like some has worn some clothes for first time
    and wants to make it noticed.Actually classy and sophisticated people actually wear
    simple clothes and let their actions and words speak for their class.Being classy is about being
    understated and subtle.It speaks volumes about our electorate than anyone’s sartorial sense.

  11. If my professor wears Italian shoes it’s classic bcoz he deserved it but if I wear the same it’s not
    I still believe congress deserved alternative to Gandhi family if they truly want to beat BJP. Scindya, pilot, Tharoor anyone

  12. Instead of harping on Modi 24x7x365 and using his name to stake a strong claim to the congress gravy train, if you have the gutsthen do a story on how do many journalists managed to build their mansions and farmhouses in the poshests areas of Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai. Can they afford this life style with their known source of income ? Do a story on Rahul Gandhi’s innumerable foreign visits, many of them without informing his SPG. hHow and where does he go uninformed ? Do you have the guts to do these stories with the honesty and transperancy it deserves ? Am sure not because you are one of the many so called journo who too wants to have a slice of the “quick buck” pie and what better than talking about Modi, lying about him with reckless abandon. Cheap story telling. Not journalism at all.

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