AHMEDABAD:Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monogrammed bandhgala suit, which had kicked up a political row, was on Friday picked up by a diamond merchant for an astronomical Rs 4.31 crore at an auction in Surat.
Surat-based Lalji Patel, along with his son Hitesh -- the duo own Dharmanandan Diamonds Private Limited -- emerged as the highest bidder at the last moment on the final day of the auction, which saw bids flying thick and fast for the pinstriped navy blue suit that Modi wore at January 25 summit-level talks with US President Barack Obama.
Chaos prevailed in the dying moments of the auction, which commenced on Wednesday without fixing any base price for the suit, which has Prime Minister’s full name -- Narendra Damodardas Modi -- vertically embroidered on the fabric to look like golden pinstripes.
A bidder had offered Rs 5 crore for the suit, However, it was turned down as the deadline had expired. At the close of the auction, Surat District Collector Rajendra Kumar announced Lalji’s name as the bid winner.
Lalji said he would keep the suit at his factory. “The suit is priceless. We are happy that the auction amount will be used for Clean Ganga Mission. We have worshipped the nation by contributing to this noble cause,” he said.
On his part, Hitesh told Express that he bought the suit out of his love for the Ganga. “We visit Rishikesh every year and we never fail to offer prayers at the Ganga. We are happy that we are contributing to the cleanliness drive,” he said.
Pointing out that Modi has known the patels for the past 15 years, he said, “We are involved in a lot of social work conducted by our community. Modiji knows that we will always work for something better. He has always blessed our work.”
The suit was one of the 455 ‘gift items’ that Modi received during his nine-month-old tenure.
The Prime Minister has already declared that the amount raised through the auction would be spent on the Clean Ganga project.
The Congress, meanwhile, alleged that Modi had organised the auction for self publicity. “The swine flu cases are on rise in Surat, but the BJP Government in the state as well as at the Centre have neglected the poor patients. They held such extravaganzas in the name of cleaning up the Ganga. It is nothing but self publicity,” said Surat Congress chief Naishad Desai.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, on the other hand, sarcastically suggested that the suit should be kept in a museum so that the future generation could view it and learn a lot from it.