This is epic as far as photos go. Mamata Banerjee who dethroned the mighty Communists of Bengal, is more left than the left itself. She goes to the wedding of the century where the high and mighty of power and pelf arrive in their finest. The entrance exudes opulence. India, nay, the world hasn’t seen a union of this scale. She is aware of the details and the devil’s dwelling therein. But she makes a point with flat chappals. A point so poignant that blunts a thousand Jimmy Choo pointed heels piercing the bloody red carpet.
Mamata Banerjee in plastic flip flops is not what Communist wet dreams are made of. Mamata Banerjee in plastic flip flops entering through the gilded gates of world’s second most expensive residence is. Half the people in the hall were wearing on their bodies what municipal bodies in Bengal don’t spend in a year. Mamata Banerjee walked into that hall in a beguni-border Dhaniakhali sari. 100 Marx for Kolkata Communism.
Mukesh Ambani and Nita Ambani’s daughter Isha tied the knot with Ajay and Swati Piramal’s son Anand on December 12. The evening was a glittery one at the Ambanis’ 27-storey residence in the heart of Mumbai, Antilia. And as Altamount Road saw a stream of VVIP guests on Wednesday evening, dressed in the finest of their ethnic and formalwear, the solitary Mamata Banerjee stood out from the crowd.
The chief minister, surrounded by a sea of extremely well-dressed people, cut quite an impressive figure dressed in her plain white saree and plastic chappals. Mamata is known for her plain cotton sarees and the simple chappals. No one remembers seeing the Trinamool Congress leader in anything but her trademark cotton saree and chappals ever since she entered politics. And since 2009, Mamata has stuck to a special kind of handloom sarees – the Dhaniakhali sarees.
In the past 9 years, the weavers of Hooghly’s Dhaniakhali have spun many sarees for Mamata, from before the time she became the a chief minister.
Mamata prefers her custom-made sarees, that have come to be called ‘Mamata Sarees’ now, with thin stripes all over the body and a narrow border. The handloom sarees that Mamata wears are a little longer than the usual ‘twelve-arm-length’ sarees that are the norm. Crimson and red are a big no for Mamata. The chief minister sticks to lighter shades, mostly white and grey.
Mamata Banerjee’s Spartan lifestyle is well-known in the political arena. When former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Mamata, the then Central Railways Minister at her Harish Chatterjee Street home in Kolkata, he is said to have been quite stunned. The year was 2000.
In 2014, when Rahul Gandhi addressed a rally in Ghatal in West Bengal, he famously took that dig at Mamata’s chappals: “The slippers that Mamata Banerjee wears have ‘Made In China’ tag on them. We want to change that to ‘Made In India’.”
Over the past four years, political equations have changed. What hasn’t changed is Mamata Banerjee’s way of dressing. Even at a billionaire’s wedding, with a star-studded guest list, Banerjee knows how to make a loud statement without saying anything.