Khadi is the clear winner this poll season even before a single vote has been cast.
In the run-up to the general elections, politicians and members of different parties are making a beeline for khadi stores that have pushed the demand for such clothes by 20 per cent in the past few weeks.
Not only khadi, apparels of cotton and linen are also in high demand like the perpetual political leaders’ uniform of kurta-pyjama and Jawahar coat. “We have all sorts of politicians as our customers,” said Dinesh Kumar, owner, Suddh Khadi Store, Mauryalok. “I have seen more than three general elections. The taste of the politicians, even the new generation ones, has remained the same. Khadi kurta-pyjama and Nehru collared jackets have not changed over the years,” added Dinesh, in charge of the shop, which has been running since 28 years.
Lalu Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap seems to follow his father’s footsteps. Like the RJD chief, Tej Pratap is fond of white crisp cotton kurta. “I prefer wearing white kurta-pyjama with Nehru collar jacket not just to fit the humble politician image but also khadi is a Swadeshi fabric that depicts patriotism. I too love wearing khadi dhoti,” said Tej Pratap who accompanied his sister Misa Bharati to file her nomination in blue linen shirt with a Jawahar coat.
Senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav also said cotton is among the most comfortable fabrics. “I always prefer wearing cotton or linen. They are comfortable while you travel long during campaigns, especially in the summer months,” said Nand Kishore, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.
Though there is no strict dress code for politicians, the white kurta-pyjama has remained a favourite with them. “Politicians and their supporters buy these in bulk ahead of any elections. Very few of them repeat the same set in the next rally even on a same day. The daily sale of my shop is something between Rs 15,000 and 20,000. We cater to more than 10 customers at a time every day,” said Firaq Ansari, manager, Khadi India, Fraser Road.
From style statements to patriotism, some wear khadi for a cause, too, like food and civil supplies minister Shyam Rajak. “I always prefer wearing khadi because the more we buy, more labourers are benefited and more profit is added to our country’s economy,” he said.
Uwait, a tailor, has no time to even take a power nap these days. Uwait has a small makeshift arrangement along with a group of tailors at Beer Chand Patel Marg, where most of the party offices are located. “There are innumerable orders of stitching kurta-pyjama. We take maximum two hours to stitch a kurta and speed is our speciality,” said Uwait.
A wide range of products, including dhoti, kurta, pyjama, angabastra, stole, scarf, jackets and Gandhi caps, are available in stores. The fabric costs Rs 70-80 to Rs 2,000 a metre. The price of a simple khadi shirt is Rs 500 but it can go up to Rs 3,000.