Rs 1.21 cr bid for Modi’s controversial bandhgala suit
SURAT FEBRUARY 18
A Surat-based textile businessmen bid a whopping Rs 1.21 crore in an auction today for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial pinstripe monogrammed bandhgala suit that he wore during US President Barack Obama’s visit to India last month.
Rajesh Juneja gave a written bid offering Rs.1.21 crore for Modi’s navy blue suit which was the star attraction at the three-day auction which opened today.Earlier, NRI businessmen Viral Chowksi offered Rs 1.11 crore, while before him textile trader Suresh Aggarwal made an offer of Rs one crore for the two-piece suit.
The first bid was made for Rs 11 lakh by a Surat-based chartered accountant Pankaj, while few minutes later, second bid of Rs 51 lakh was made by Raju Agarwal, an estate dealer.
“I have offered Rs.One crore. This is work of charity and when the Prime Minister is doing for a great cause like cleaning of Ganga, I decided to go ahead and buy the suit,” said Suresh Aggarwal.
Giving a new dimension to the controversy, NRI Gujarati businessman Ramesh B Virani, who had participated in the Gujarat Vibrant Summit, said he had gifted the suit to Modi when had he gone to invite the Prime Minister for his son’s wedding.
“At that time, he (Modi) told me that he has a very busy schedule ahead and also that he will be donating the suit. I said there is no problem with that. I told him that I want him to wear the suit on the day of my son’s wedding as a blessing,” he said.
The suit that created waves and kicked up a political storm was put for auction along with 455 items that Modi had received as gifts during his nearly nine-month long tenure to generate funds for the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Clean Ganga Mission’.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suit, that he wore during his meeting with President Barack Obama last month, along with other 455 items that he received as gifts during his tenure as Prime Minister is being auctioned at the three-day event,” Surat Municipal Commissioner Milind Toravane told PTI. The gift items belonging to Prime Minister Modi is a national treasure and the money generated from the auction will be utilised for the ‘Clean Ganga Mission’, he added.
The event was organised at SMC’s Science Convention Centre at city-lights road in Surat as the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) had decided to hold the auction in the city.
Modi during his chief ministerial tenure in Gujarat had initiated a trend to auction the gifts that he received in a year and it was donated to Kanya Kelavani Yojna for girl child education, he said.
Modi was photographed wearing the suit during his summit talks with Obama in Hyderabad House in Delhi on January 25 and at a joint media appearance that followed the meeting.
Photographs of the suit on a closer inspection showed that the stripes were actually tiny letters spelling out his name in full– Narendra Damodardas Modi–and embroidered on the fabric vertically down the stripe.
The suit had triggered a debate in social media while the Prime Minister was slammed by his political opponents for wearing an expensive suit. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called Modi a “megalomaniac”.
Toravane said no base price has been fixed for any of the items to come under the hammer.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also had raked up the issue of Modi’s expensive suit during the campaign for Delhi assembly polls in which BJP was routed. Some reports said the suit cost nearly Rs 10 lakh.
Discussions on whether the suit, which from a distance appeared to be a classic navy blue pinstripe design, was fine style and good form or a thinly-disguised show of narcissism coursed through social media, even attracting global media attention.
Tweets flew thick and fast, including comparison with former Egypt President Hosni Mubarak who is known to have a similar outfit.
Congress leader Ajay Maken said the auction was a “damage control” exercise by the Prime Minister who was “widely criticised” for donning such a suit.
“The PM made a mockery of the poor by wearing a suit like this…It showed how egotistic this person is,” he said.
“First, how can such an expensive gift be called a private gift? What exactly in return does the person gifting this expect? Secondly, there are rules and norms laid down in the statute over how gifts are to be disposed off. The Prime Minister cannot decide to just auction off the gift, nor can he decide where the proceeds of the auctions may be given. The statute states that the amount must go down to the government depository,” he said.
At the end of three days, the highest bidder will take away the navy blue suit. The suit was tailored by Jade Blue in Ahmedabad, the clothing chain that handles the Prime Minister’s wardrobe.
Surat City Collector Rajendra Kumar said the bidding will be closed on February 20 at 5 pm.