Surat — Narendra Modi's monogrammed bandhgala suit that drew trenchant criticism from rivals was today sold off for a staggering Rs 4.31 crore at an auction in perhaps the first such sale of articles gifted to a serving Prime Minister.
The navy blue suit with Modi's name in full— Narendra Damodardas Modi—embroidered on the fabric to look like golden stripes which he had worn for Summit talks with US President Barack Obama in New Delhi on January 25 went to a diamond trader from Surat Lalji Patel and his son after an intense bidding for the two-piece ensemble on the closing day of the three-day auction.
"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. 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 money generated from the auction will go for Modi's ambitious '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 told .
"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, said to be worth Rs 10 lakh, had kicked up a political storm with the Opposition, particularly the Congress taking on Modi during the campaign for Delhi Assembly polls.