Here is a timeline of how the slipper has formed an important weapon of making a political statement over the years.
1976: N D Tiwari is said to have carried Sanjay Gandhi’s slippers at the heights of the Emergency. Once the dark days were over, the episode became synonymous with the dynastic culture of Congress
2010: Maharashtra minister Ramesh Bagwe picks up Rahul Gandhi’s shoes, as the scion pays homage at an Ambedkar’s statue in Mumbai. People harked back to the Sanjay Gandhi episode
2015: The slipper continues to be a useful instrument in the Congress, as former union minister V Narayanasamy offers his slippers to Rahul Gandhi in a waterlogged street of Puducherry. It’s an avuncular act: Narayanasamy only didn’t want the Prince’s feet to get muddy.
2009: Inspired by an Iraqi man who threw a shoe at Dubya Bush, Dainik Jagran reporter Jarnail Singh carefully lobbed a Reebok at P Chidambaram
Symbol of austerity
Effectively used, the hawai chappal can be a potent part of a leader’s identity, as Mamata Banerjee has shown. Coming from Mother Teresa’s city, Didi always understood how her chappals could give her the image of an austere leader.
An image of loss
1991: Who can forget the image of a Lotto shoe separated from its wearer after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Sriperumbudur? During his time as PM, Rajiv’s Lottos had become a symbol of
derision and his disconnect with Indian reality. In that morbid image form, it became the identity of the leader we lost.