Surat: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's famous monogrammed suit went under the hammer for a staggering Rs.4.31 crore at a charity auction here Friday, officials said.
The final winning bid was placed by top-notch diamond merchant Lalji Patel, chairman of the Dharmanandan Diamonds Pvt. Ltd. of Surat.
"The suit has been purchased for Rs 4.31 crore by Dharmananda Diamond Company's Lalji Patel and his son Hitesh Patel," District Collector Rajendra Kumar announced at the end of the exercise marked by chaos during the closing moments.
Dharmanand Diamond Company's Laljibhai Patel standing near Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pinstriped bandhgala suit which he bought for Rs 4.31 Cr in an auction in Surat on Friday. Pic/PTI
The price climbed steadily through the day as buyers and curious onlookers gathered around a lookalike mannequin of Modi on which the suit was displayed behind a glass case.
Some bids, including one of Rs five crore, were received after the 5 pm deadline and were disallowed, he said.
The suit was the star attraction among 455 items that went under the hammer. The proceeds of the auction will go towards the Prime Minister's Clean Ganga mission.
An elated Patel later told reporters he wanted to do something for the country and the auction gave him a chance for that.
"I always wanted to do something in the interest of country. This event gave me a chance to do some thing in national interest. I never thought that this incredible suit will come to me," he said.
"All of them had a desire to purchase this suit. They had a good intention that money they are spending will go for the 'Clean Ganga Mission'. I also made the bid with the same intention," added Patel.
His son Hitesh said his family has a "special relation" with the Ganga which made them shell out the money.
"Every year we spend 10-15 days on the banks of Ganga, especially at Rishikesh. So we have a special, spiritual and auspicious relation with the river," Hitesh Patel said.
"We made a bid of Rs 4,31,31,000 for the suit as the money will go for cleaning the Ganga. We never thought that we will get the suit for so little," he said, adding he would get the attire altered and wear it before putting it on display at the reception area of the family firm 'Dharmanand Diamonds".
The suit, which attracted global publicity, was designed by Ahmedabad-based designer Ramesh Kumar of Modi's regular tailor Jade Blue.
The suit has the name 'Narendra Damodardas Modi' weaved into it in glittering gold letters. Pic/AFP
The suit kicked up a political row with opposition parties accusing the prime minister of indulging in 'narcissism' and questioned how a 'tea-vendor' could afford the expensive suit, reportedly costing around Rs.1 million.
At the three-day auction, it was put on a life-size mannequin resembling Modi, as the bidders examined it closely before announcing their bids.
All the 455 items - which went on auction Wednesday at the SMC Science Convention Centre - were gifted to Modi in India and abroad in the past nine months.
They included one gold article, 13 silver, 46 brass-copper-metallic artefacts, 14 ceramic and glass items, 31 wooden articles, 99 picture frames, 237 clothes including T-shirts from Australia, and 14 miscellaneous items.
Since his days as the Gujarat chief minister, Modi introduced the tradition to auction such gifts for various charities and had raised around Rs.95 crore in his 13 years in the saddle.
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