Bids fly thick and fast for Modi suit on last day of auction

Surat: There was a scramble to claim Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pinstripe monogrammed suit with bids going higher on the third and final day of the auction here today as two Surat-based businessmen made an offering of Rs 1.81 crore.

Five fresh bids were received today during the auction, with businessmen Lavji Badshah and Jayanti Aklara making the highest offer of Rs 1.81 crore to purchase the controversial suit that Modi wore during US President Barack Obama's visit to India last month.


Narendra Modi and Barack Obama

Badshah and Aklara had earlier offered Rs 1.71 crore, but increased their bid amount to Rs 1.81 crore after another businessman Hitesh Patel offered Rs 1.75 crore. "We have great respect for Saheb (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) and as this fund will be utilised for Clean Ganga Mission, we preferred to make this bid," said Aklara, who came to submit a written bid.

The first fresh bid this morning of Rs 1.61 crore was made by Surat-based diamond trader Hitesh Patel. However, when others came forward, he raised his bid offering to 1.75 crore. "I made the bid as the fund will go to 'Clean Ganga' campaign. That is the reason why I made the bid twice to get the Modi suit," he said. Besides, trader Rajesh Jain made an offering of Rs 1.65 crore.

"I have very high feelings for the Modi suit as I consider it a national asset," Jain said after his bid. On the second day of auction yesterday, the highest bid was from Surat-based diamond trader Mukesh Patel who offered Rs 1.48 crore for the suit. The bidding for the suit had started with Rs 11 lakh on the first day.

The suit, that kicked up a political storm, is being auctioned 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'. The auction at the Science Convention Centre will close at 5 PM today after which the articles will be handed over to the highest bidder.

Modi was photographed wearing the suit during the summit talks with Obama at Hyderabad House in Delhi on January 25 and at a joint media appearance that followed the meeting. On closer inspection, photographs showed that the stripes were actually a monogram -- Narendra Damodardas Modi -- embroidered on the fabric vertically down the stripe.

The suit had triggered a national debate and the Prime Minister was slammed by his political opponents -- especially the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party -- for wearing an expensive suit that some reports said cost nearly Rs 10 lakh.

Amid the media hype surrounding the auction, Congress workers held a protest yesterday outside the auction venue calling the event an act of "self publicity" by Modi. "Swine flu cases are on rise in the city, the state and also in the country, but the BJP government has neglected poor patients. Now they hold such extravaganzas in the name of cleaning Ganga. The people of Varanasi should ask Modi why he did not fulfil the promises he made," Surat city Congress President Naishad Desai had told reporters.

"Modi has organised this extravaganza merely for self publicity and personal gain. This property belongs to the nation and certainly not to him," Desai said. The auction, apart from protest also drew derision, with JD(U) president Sharad Yadav calling the suit "historic" which should be kept in a "museum."

"The suit is historic in nature. It should not be sold, but kept in a museum. The future generation can view it and they can learn a lot from it. No one should ridicule it...All this will increase tourism," he said in Delhi, taking a jibe at the Prime Minister.

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