Sari & (Not So) Soft Power: The Evolution Of The Six Yard Drape In India’s Political Landscape


Dressing as a medium to connect with the masses, aka the vote bank is a compelling gamble in the electioneering backrooms. One that may occasionally facilitate in racking up a few hundred (or thousand) more votes. Enter the sari. The eternal drape. Six yards of sheer elegance. A reputable sartorial stand nonetheless.

Whether it’s about highlighting the essence of Indian textiles, asserting feminine power or propagating a culturally rooted stance, a sari is of paramount importance in the wardrobe of most female politicians in India.

Let’s glance through some of these sari clad women making a statement through their style choices.

Indira Gandhi


Ushering a new, feminist era in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s prime ministerial rule, the sari gained momentum nationally & otherwise. Also celebrated for furthering the diverse handloom legacy of our nation, Indira Gandhi often favoured artisanal Banarasi saris & khadi weaves merged elegantly with her sophisticated bouffant hairstyle.

Smriti Irani


Currently the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani also held the position of Union Minister for Textiles from July 2016 – July 2021. Always lensed in a humble six yard drape, her textile portfolio spanning half a decade is considered noteworthy, given the many initiatives undertaken to push sericulture, north-eastern weaves & ample R&D.

Mahua Moitra


A member of parliament from Krishnanagar, Mahua Moitra is an exemplary symbol of female leadership in today’s politics. Styled to the T with scintillating & light-weight weaves, her turtle neck blouses are sure a raging favourite amongst the fashionable crowd that keeps up with the happenings of Lok Sabha.

Sonia Gandhi


Ikat silks, jamdanis, Korpat tribal saris & you name it, Sonia Gandhi’s donned every piece of textile originating from every corner of the nation. Mostly sporting a no-frills, simplistic colour palette, her strategic decision of wearing state specific weaves when on work tours bode well, in terms of winning the crowds back in the day.

Pratibha Patil


Having served as the first woman to become the president of India from 2007 to 2012, Pratibha Devisingh Patil’s affinity for Sambalpuri weaves made quite the headlines during her tenure. Adorned with a bindi & a pallu over her head, she stood her ground when it came to styling herself.

Mamata Banerjee


Mamata Banerjee, the fierce & outspoken player from Trinamool Congress has held the reins of Bengal’s political battleground for decades. A tenacious patron of the Dhaniakhali sari originating from her home state, her incessant dedication to sport the weave has made it synonymous with her image.

Sushma Swaraj


Known to frequent the Odisha ikat, late politician Sushma Swaraj & her infamous sleeveless jackets layered with saris were all the rage. Always coordinating with either the body of the weave or the colour of the border, she fashioned multiple renditions of the said pairing at various events.

Images Via Getty & Pinterest

Also Read: Kalki Koded: On A Greener And Cleaner Tomorrow

- Digital Fashion Writer


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