Chennai: Dressed in bright formal wear and hopping a bicycle, scooter and autorickshaw, DMK Treasurer M K Stalin has gone in for a rapid image makeover, in a bid to reach out to the people especially youth, ahead of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu next year.
Sporting stylish sunglasses and sports and canvas shoes, 62-year-old Stalin, son of party patriarch M Karunanidhi, has shed the trademark attire of white shirt and dhoti (traditionally worn by politicians in this region) for the first time in his political career spanning four decades.
The makeover is perceived as an attempt to arrest the attention of the youth in the age group of 18-29, who make up about 21 per cent of the state's 5.5 crore electorate.
The reach out plan christened "Namakku Naame Vidiyal Meetpu Payanam" (We for ourselves, journey to retrieve dawn) began on September 20 in Kanyakumari district and is aimed at covering all the 234 assembly constituencies in the state.
Seeking to connect personally with the people, Stalin, considered the political heir-apparent of Karunaidhi, rides a bicycle, scooter and travels in autorickshaws, buses and shakes hands with common man, something not attempted by him before or by other top state politicians.
As part of the campaign, the DMK leader has tea and refreshments at roadside eateries, food with students, workers and farmers. He is also careful in making symbolic gestures like lending a helping hand to an elderly woman in her spinning wheel.
The makeover is complete not only in style, but in substance too, with the leader interacting with people directly and holding meetings with small groups in little towns and listening to the grievances of working classes belonging to various fields like salt pan labourers.
However, the ruling AIADMK and PMK have pooh-poohed the campaign and Stalin's image makeover.