New Delhi, March 8: His half-sleeved kurta, the panache with which he carries off the Nehru jacket and his clean and crisp dressing style makes Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi the favourite of designers, who feel that he always puts his best fashion foot forward.
The Lok Sabha poll will be held in nine phases from April 7 to May 12. And politicians will be out in full force to gain confidence of the masses. Whatever may be the election results, fashion designers vote for Modi as their favourite best-dressed politician.
Known for mostly donning a half-sleeved kurta and pyjama in shades of blue and orange, the Gujarat chief minister has, at least in the fashion sweepstakes, certainly defeated politicians like Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal.
"I feel Narendra Modi is the most well-dressed amongst them all. Just like his visionary approach, his fashion sensibility also reflects in his clean and crisp dressing style. He carries himself with elan and has a certain aura about himself," designer Poonam Bajaj told IANS.
Modi has been chief minister since 2001 and has been severely criticised for the 2002 Gujarat violence but still has strong supporters and is given credit for the state's economic growth.
In addition to designers' votes, merchandise store Bluegape.com also favours the Gujarat chief minister. The Hyderabad-based store says 8,360 out of its 10,000 users bought NaMO merchandise.
In Mumbai 5,869 out of 10,000 users bought NaMO merchandise, while Delhi and Bangalore favoured AAP as 7,165 out of 10,000 users bought the party's merchandise.
Asked to pick her favourite, designer Pooja Motwani promptly said: "Of course Narendra Modiji. His style of carrying the Nehru jacket, which is really in nowadays...youngsters and elders everyone is following the trend. His kurta styles are good too."
Fashion organisation India Federation for Fashion Development's designer Swati Mehrotra liked his "real Indian politician look. Modi's Jawahar jacket and khadi kurta is the real Indian political look," she said.
Designer Ritu Chabbra too voted for Modi's khadi apparel. "He is always properly dressed. The kind of clothes he wears are made of khadi, which gives a patriotic feel," she said.
A Modi follower has also launched a website titled modimania.com, which offers kurtas and accessories inspired by the politician.
"The website was launched in the last week of December 2013. It's been doing well since then. We offer Modi kurtas in seven to eight colours like black, sky blue and dark blue apart from mugs, t-shirts and other products," said Janardan Tiwari, its founder and promoter.
He chose to sell such kurtas through the site because he wanted the apparel to reach the masses.
"These types of kurtas are also available at Ahmedabad's Jade Blue, but the prices are very high. They cost around Rs.5,000. You can find the same type on our site for between Rs. 899 and Rs. 1200," Tiwari pointed out.
If Modi's fashion sensibilities have won over many, this can't be said about Rahul Gandhi, son of late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi who was known for his distinctive style.
But Rahul Gandhi, 43, likes to keep it simple and mostly appears in white kurta-pajama at political events and rallies.
Designers believe he needs to try something new.
"Rahul Gandhi is always seen in white. And white is not colorful and bright," said Chabbra.
Bajaj suggests more structured clothes to him.
"I feel that Rahul Gandhi can experiment with his way of dressing. With age being in his favour, he can opt for more structured clothes," said Bajaj.
While Gandhi's wardrobe needs more colour, Kejriwal needs to improve too, said Chabbra and added: "Arvind Kejriwal is always shabbily dressed. He looks like a sarkari babu."
The former Delhi chief minister's muffler and sweater might reflect his grounded style, but some from the fashion industry beg to differ.
Mehrotra said he should go for a wardrobe makeover. The first thing he should shun is his trademark muffler and "get some real clothes".
Indian politicians are often recognised by their well-ironed kurta pyjamas and Motwani suggested Kejriwal should go for a khadi-cotton combination a la other politicians.
"Kejriwal needs an overhauling in terms of his dressing sense; he should be more into formal wear," said Bajaj.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)