Indian Politicians’ Favourite SUVs

Snapshot – The best way to see a place or even connect with the local populace is by walking around. The next best way is hopping onto a motorcycle. But what happens when you have hundreds of kilometers to cover with a few dozen people accompanying you? You hit the road in a car. Well, a flashy sedan would do quite well is getting from A to B in comfort is your motto. On the other hand, if you’re a politician who needs to be seen sitting and standing high, the sedan gets thrown out of the window. Enter the S-U-V.

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SUV makers such as Mahindra, Toyota and Tata Motors are rubbing their hands with glee. After ex Finance Minister Mr P.Chidambaram doled out excise duty cuts to encourage car sales, the second wind in the sails has come with the announcement of 2014 general elections. With polls are in the air and each politician worth her or his starched Khadi busy going about campaigning in her or his constituency, the SUV is the regular fixture of the political campaign landscape. CarToq lists out Indian politicians’ six favourite SUVs.

Tata Safari

Who loves it

Nitish Kumar, Rahul Gandhi

The Tata Safari is an imposing SUV, more so in the expansive white garb. Being a Tata, the SUV is quite spacious and is a prominent sight as a vehicle ferrying politicians during campaigns. Prominent politicians using the Tata Safari include the likes of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The Safari is powered by a 2.2 liter common rail, turbo diesel engine and a five speed manual gearbox. The Safari line up got a new addition in 2011, in the form of the Safari Storme model, a heavily revamped version. Both SUVs feature a rugged body-on-ladder chassis and good ride quality to suit the rough and tumble of Indian roads, and of course the political campaign season.

Mahindra Scorpio

The Mahindra Scorpio is India’s best selling body-on-ladder SUV. Armed with a rough and tough image, the SUV, like the Tata Safari is a favourite among politicians and thugs alike. A 7 seater like the Safari, the Scorpio’s middle row is cramped. However, this doesn’t seem to deter the politicians from using this reliable and rugged SUV for campaigning duties as the one seeking votes usually sits in the front left seat of the SUV. Our PM Narendra Modi and Y. Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSR Congress are two of the well known political faces seen using a Mahindra Scorpio. Most variants of the Scorpio are powered by a 2.2 liter mHawk turbo diesel engine while rural parts of the country see a higher offtake of the 2.5 liter M2DiCR diesel engined Scorpio EX variants for campaigning duties.

Who loves it

Narendra Modi, Y Jaganmohan Reddy

Toyota Fortuner

Another big brawler that’s a politician favourite is the Toyota Fortuner SUV. Imposing looks and the Toyota badge on the bonnet give the Fortuner a semblance of indestructibility. The Fortuner is a seven seater, although not known to be the most spacious of luxury SUV offerings. The SUV is powered by a lusty 3 liter D-4D turbo diesel engine that is highly reliable. The Fortuner continues to face stiff demand with waiting periods spanning many months. With elections around the corner, the demand for the Toyota Fortuner, especially in the colour white, is quite high. Prominent Fortuner users among Indian politicians include Arun Jaitley of the BJP, Siddaramiah – the Chief Minister of Karnataka,  and Manpreet Badal of the People’s Party of Punjab.

Who loves it

Arun Jaitley, Manpreet Badal

Mitsubishi Pajero

Before the advent of the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and the Landcruisers, the Mitsubishi Pajero was the SUV of choice for many political leaders. Now no longer made in India, the Pajero SFX continues to command a steady following of politicians given its bomb proof reliability and longevity. The Pajero has been replaced by the Pajero Sport, which also gets its fair share of politician buyers. The Pajero Sport is powered by a 2.5 liter turbo diesel engine while the older Pajero SFX featured a 2.8 liter diesel motor. Prominent users of the Mitsubishi Pajero include Tamil Nadu ex-Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Who loves it

J Jayalalithaa, Akhilesh Yadav

Mahindra Thar

The Thar is a bare basic off roaders intended for just that, off roading. However, the SUV’s open top design and factory reliability has seen it replace older and unreliable MM540 and MM540 off roaders that Mahindra used to sell previously. The Mahindra Thar is powered by 2.5 liter DI and CRDe turbo diesel options. The SUV is a seven seater although the side facing seats at the rear are usually dismounted during political campaigns so that leaders can use the flat bed as a stage during political rallies. Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal is one politician frequently spotted campaigning in a Mahindra Thar.

Who loves it

Arvind Kejriwal

Mahindra Bolero

The Mahindra Bolero is more of a sidekick when it comes to political rallies with hordes of a politician’s supporters being crammed into this utilitarian workhorse of an MUV. While Fortuners, Scorpios and Safaris lead the campaign, Boleros follow closely behind, as support vehicles that carry anything from supporters to party paraphernalia. India’s best selling MUVs is a hot favourite during the elections with sales seeing big spikes. The Bolero is available with 2.5 liter DI and M2DICR engines, different roof designs and seating capacities. Known for low running costs and high fuel efficiency, the tough Bolero is a particularly effective means of campaign transport in India’s hinterland.

Who loves it

Party supporters, favourite vehicle during rallies