A good beard is a great companion. It can make a man look older and even more serious, according to a widely held belief.
Observers say the oft-labeled “unserious, part-time politician” Rahul Gandhi comes across as serious and determined with his bearded look.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra started with a clean shaven Rahul. As the yatra progressed and gained traction, the clean-shaven look was slowly missed. And now he has a fairly well-grown salt-and-pepper beard. Not that it’s the first time he’s dressed unshaven. From time to time he has, but it has been very short: both the look and the beard.
But now many in Congress are eager to know why the beard? Will it help? Political strategist Dilip Cherian says: “A beard can work if it is preceded by groundwork. A beard alone cannot do enough to win an election.”
But those close to Rahul Gandhi say that the yatra and appearance have nothing to do with polls. It’s just something he feels comfortable with, they say. But there are two things the beard look can do for Rahul Gandhi.
First, it makes him look serious and determined. And angry. To take on the BJP. Rahul Gandhi has said that the yatra is to reach the people as the BJP has cut off all communication channels.
Second, many said that the yatra would just be a picnic. And would not be serious and incomplete. But by his looks, Rahul Gandhi seems determined to complete the yatra, and he also starts daily at 6 AM. It also intersects with the luxurious life and style associated with Rahul Gandhi. A beard, and an unkempt beard, gives the impression of “having no time to dress up or look good”.
There is often a strategy behind such ‘carefully cultivated’ looks. Like when once Aaditya Thackeray walked into a meeting wearing a T-shirt and jeans, few said that he cannot be the heir of Uddhav as he looked like a student. the makeover. He was dressed in a pastel colored shirt and formal slacks and wore thin-rimmed glasses. He looked matter-of-fact, mature, yet youthful.
The same was the case with Abhishek Banerjee before he became the National General Secretary of the Trinamool Congress. His chubby cheeks were gone. He looked fit and wore crisp kurta pajamas. He had the charisma, his supporters said.
Observers point out that DK Shivakumar, the Karnataka Congress hopeful CM, is also sporting a beard these days.
But the epitome of dressing in style to convey a political message was then Indira Gandhi and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both are known to dress well and thoughtfully. Both kept the traditional and local styles in mind while visiting states.
Don’t forget that Prime Minister Modi also grew his beard during the elections in West Bengal. Some would compare him to Rabindranath Tagore and say the look was inspired to court the Bengalis who swear by the bard. At that time, Rahul had tweeted to take a look at the Prime Minister and said, “Chor ki dadhi…”
But Rahul Gandhi’s beard has now gone political. As Himanta Biswa Sarma, the chief minister of Assam, said that Rahul looks like Saddam Hussein. This led to very strong reactions from Congress, which called it censurable.
Not that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t have time to shave. He takes the time to exercise. So the beard look is intentional. But does the journey from stubble to beard also cover the setbacks the party has received at the polls? Easier to grow a beard, harder to win elections, with a close shave.
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