After three days of intense competition among bidders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monogrammed gold pinstripe suit was finally auctioned off for a staggering Rs4.31 crore at the Science Centre Gallery in Surat on Friday, the last day of the auction.
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. 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.
The navy blue, handmade suit, with Narendra Damodardas Modi woven into it in gold pinstripes, was coveted by many businessmen, NRIs, diamond merchants and others, but ultimately it was diamond trader Hitesh laljibhai Patel, who walked off with the prize after his whopping bid of Rs4.31 crore was accepted by the Surat Collector.
On Wednesday, the first day of the auction, the bidding was initiated at Rs11 lakh. To everyone’s surprise it quickly went up with textile merchant Rajesh Juneja taking it up to Rs1.21 crore. It didn’t stop there, as on the second day diamond merchant Mukesh Patel emerged as the highest bidder at Rs1.48 crore. However, the third and final day of the bidding was even more interesting, especially from 4 pm to 5 pm as the bidding got intense. Ultimately, just a few seconds ahead of closing time Hitesh Patel, chairman of Dharmanandan Diamonds Pvt. ltd., made the mind-boggling bid of Rs4.31 crore.
To make matters interesting, a couple of minutes after Patel’s bid, a Surat-based builder lavji Badshah made a bid of Rs5 crore, but it was rejected by the Collector as the time for the auction was over and Patel was declared the proud owner of the Prime Minister’s suit.
Modi wore the dapper suit during the breakfast meeting with US President Barack Obama at Hyderabad House in January. It was designed by Ahmedabad-based designer Ramesh Kumar of Modi’s regular tailor Jade Blue.
Modi’s bandhgala suit, which was reported to have cost anywhere between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, sparked off a major controversy as senior leaders of Opposition parties strongly criticized Modi and termed it an “extravagance” and accused the Prime Minister of “showing off”.
However, ahead of the auction it was clarified that Modi got the suit as a gift from an NRI named Ramesh Virani. In fact Virani himself was quoted as saying that he gifted the suit to Modi during Vibrant Gujarat — 2015 in Gandhinagar and requested him to attend his son’s wedding wearing the suit. He further said that though the PM didn’t attend the wedding due to his busy schedule, he made it a point to wear the suit on the day of the wedding.
Meanwhile, after winning the bid, an ecstatic Patel posed before the media and said: “I would like to keep the suit in my office. It will remind people working there that the money we spent will be utilize for the noble cause of cleaning the Ganga River.”
Among the other bidders, who were in the race for Modi’s suit till the last moment, were Komalkant Sharma from Bhavnagar who made a bid of Rs. 2.95 crore, Haryana-based hardware merchant Rajesh Jain (Rs. 2.9 crore), Sanjay Malavia (Rs. 2.31 crore), Mumbai-based Vipul Shah (2.51 crore), Surat-based builders Chandresh Oza and Jayanti Eklera who made bids of Rs. 1.95 crore and Rs 1.81 crore respectively. 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.
Apart from the much-hyped monogrammed suit and T-shirt of Australian fast bowler Brett lee, other gifts and artifacts Modi received as the Prime Minister were also auctioned. A replica of Mahatma Gandhi’s spectacles in a transparent glass cube, idols of lord Ram along with Sita, laxman and Hanuman attracted people at the exhibition-cum-auction.
“The list of the bid winners will be finalized late in the evening as there were 455 items belonging to Prime Minister Modi and 361 items belonging to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel,” said Jayesh Desai, who is managing the registration desk at the auction venue.