SURAT: India’s most famous suit was sold today for Rs. 4.31 after a three-day auction that saw businessmen, diamond merchants and a teacher making offers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suit with his name woven into it in gold pinstripes finally went to Hitesh Laljibhai Patel, a Surat-based diamond merchant. The money will be used for the prime minister’s campaign to clean the river Ganga.
“We will keep the suit in our office as a reminder of the noble cause we took part in,” said a jubilant Mr Patel. He had doggedly outbid other buyers, declaring that the “sky’s the limit.”
The tailored navy suit worn by PM Modi during US President Barack Obama’s visit last month was mocked by Opposition parties as an example of narcissism and extravagance in a country where many live in extreme poverty.
The suit was auctioned along with over 400 other gifts Mr Modi has received since becoming prime minister.
The opening bid for Rs. 51 lakh was made by a former BJP legislator on Wednesday and within hours, the figure had crossed a crore. At least two of the bidders have allegedly faced tax scrutiny.
“It’s a diamond and I know its value,” said Mukesh Patel, who bid Rs. 1.48 crore on the suit and has faced tax raids in the past.
Gujarat-based industrialist Komalkant Sharma, who bid Rs. 1.41 crore, was also raided three years ago, but he claimed it was the result of a technical error and he had been cleared.
Rajesh Maheshwari, a nursery school teacher in Surat, offered Rs. 1.25 crore raised by a group of 250 people who contributed Rs. 50,000 each.
“It is impossible for a middle class man to bid for such a suit. People spend Rs. 10 crore on a wedding. Imagine how proud a groom will be to wear the suit worn by India’s Prime Minister on a historic occasion. We can also charge Rs. 1,000 for a selfie with the suit and donate that money for children’s education,” Mr Maheshwari told.