BJP, Congress trade barbs over Rahul Gandhi's jacket

The Meghalaya unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted a picture of Mr Rahul Gandhi wearing a black jacket, which it claimed was a Burberry original.

NEW DELHI - India's two main political parties are tearing into each other over the outfits worn by their leaders.

On Wednesday (Jan 31), the Meghalaya unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tweeted a picture of Mr Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president, wearing a black jacket, which it claimed was a Burberry original, Times of India reported.

"So, soot (pun intended) boot ki sarkar with 'black' money fleeced from Meghalayan state exchequer by rampant corruption? Instead of singing away our woes, you could have given a report card of your inefficient government in Meghalaya. Your indifference mocks us," the BJP's Meghalaya unit tweeted.

It also tweeted an image of a Burberry jacket, similar to the one that Mr Gandhi wore, having a price tag of US$995, or about Rs63,000 (S$1,300).

The tweet was an apparent bid to get even with the Congress leader who in 2015 mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to wear a suit embroidered with his name during the visit of then US president Barack Obama. Congress used Mr Modi's choice of attire for a conversation over tea with Mr Obama to dub BJP "suit boot ki sarkar (government)" in a bid to sharpen its charge of a pro-rich bias.

Mr Gandhi was attending a concert in Shillong on Tuesday, apparently to reach out to young voters in preparation for the Feb 27 election.

Ditching his regulation white kurta, Mr Gandhi, 47, opted for a black convertible jacket and jeans.

BJP's charge that the jacket was bought with black money drew a sharp reaction from the Congress. Mr Gandhi tried to dismiss the controversy by later claiming it was a gift.

Speaking to a television channel, he said it had been gifted to him, though he didn't disclose who it was, Times of India reported.

He also tried to toughen it out by hurling "suit boot ki sarkar" jibe again at Mr Modi, saying the prime minister was always found in the company of people attired in suits and not with the poor.

"You will not see him (Modi) hug a poor person, talk to a poor person or even engage with a poor person. You will see him with others. There is a particular distance he maintains with poor people which he does not with Mr Obama or others," Mr Gandhi said.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who performed the song "We Shall Overcome" at the concert, defended his party chief, NDTV reported.

"How does it matter? It's cold here so he can't wear a kurta! Just because Mr Modi wears designer..."

Congress MP Renuka Chaudhary also came to her boss' defence and alleged that BJP was leading a "suit-boot ki sarkar", and had no moral authority to question Mr Gandhi. She said the saffron party was "frustrated" due to Mr Gandhi's "rising popularity".

"Their frustration is directly proportionate to the rising popularity of Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi connects with the young," Ms Chowdhury said, adding that she could show that the "same jacket" was available for Rs700.

But the BJP was not about to give up its chance to avenge Rahul Gandhi's "suit-boot" dig at Mr Modi's famous name-striped suit, with some tweets reminding Mr Gandhi of his "torn kurta" look.

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