India film star MPs hit back at ‘outfit trolls’

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Two Indian female film stars, recently elected as MPs, hit back after being trolled for wearing “western clothes” to their first day in parliament.

Mimi Chakraborty, 30, and Nusrat Jehan, 29, tweeted photos of themselves in trousers and shirts – and drew Twitter flak for looking “vulgar”.

“I represent the youth and they would be proud that I wear what they do,” Chakraborty told the BBC.

Both women won by huge margins in the eastern state of West Bengal.

The two are famous actresses in the Bengali film industry, known as Tollywood. They were among 17 women who were given tickets by the Trinamool Congress Party.

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It was the first time women accounted for 41% of candidates fielded by a political party.

On their first day at the parliament in capital Delhi, Chakraborty and Jehan posed with wide smiles in front of the imposing building – they looked chic and comfortable, with their sunglasses on and their hair pulled back.

“My clothes are not important. Just like my win was a befitting answer to the critics who questioned my candidature, my work will be an answer to these trolls. It will be an uphill battle, but I am prepared,” Jehan told the BBC’s Divya Arya.

“These people are so worried about our clothes but they don’t care about MPs who have criminal cases against them, who are corrupt and stained but wear saintly clothes,” Chakraborty added.

The two women certainly looked different from the typical Indian female MP. For one, not many women this young have been elected to India’s parliament – and most women MPs tend to wear traditional attire like saris.

But not everyone was offended by their sartorial sense. Several people have jumped to their defence since news of the trolling spread.

But the chatter has not fazed either of the young MPs, who only see this as yet another challenge.

“It takes time for people to absorb change. When a young male MP wears jeans and t-shirt no one objects, but they have a problem if a woman does the same,” Chakraborty says.

“We have also got a lot of support on social media. It is time that people understand the change. It won’t happen in a fortnight but it has begun,” Jehan says.

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