Surat: India’s most famous suit was sold today for Rs. 4.31 crore 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 62-year old Hitesh Laljibhai Patel, a Surat-based diamond merchant. The money will be used for the Prime Minister’s campaign to clean the river Ganga.
“I have 8000 thousand workers. I am going to proudly display it at my factory. Its a matter of pride that a suit worn by Narendra Modi will now be mine,” said a jubilant Mr Patel to media. 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. These included the replicas of the Pashupatinath Temple and the Statue of Liberty that the Prime Minister received as gifts, which went for over a crore rupees.
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.
Those who lost out had no complaints. Himanshu Parmar of LPS Bossard told media, “It is not a matter of disappointment. It is good that there are so many people willing to spend this much money for a good cause like cleaning the Ganga. I would say good luck to those who win the bid.”
Some bidders however did express unhappiness with the process. Leela Diamonds Managing Director, Komalkant Mehta, told media, “I have attended many international auctions but have never seen something like this. There is no place where auctions take place without an upfront deposit.”
But the collector, Rajendra Kumar, denied the charge and said, “Some bidders wanted oral bids after the process was over. That was not allowed.”
The police found it difficult to control the crowd even after the gates at the venue shut. There were many who were disappointed at not getting a chance to enter the exhibition.
Surat resident Madhuri Kothari, who reached just after the gates shut, told media, “I am really disappointed. I wanted to go inside and see the suit. There were huge crowds and I wanted to know what it was all about.”