iconimg Wednesday, May 06, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, February 20, 2013
He may preach renunciation to the world, but for Mahant Chotu Nath of Baba Gorakhnath dera in Chandigarh, Rs.10.05 lakh is well spent on a fancy number for his luxury car.

After stirring the proverbial hornet’s nest after the Monday auction, the baba evaded media. And, when he did answer the inevitable query as to why the fancy for a number and what for the Rs. 55-lakh Audi Q7 SUV, he said, “My followers want me to travel only by car”.

The number — CH-O1-AR-0001 — he said was lucky for him.

Chotu Nath ascended the No. 1 position of the Nath sect — and has 10 smaller deras under him — in May last year after his predecessor Budhnath (38) died due to food poisoning. He has followers in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana, besides Punjab.

While the 23-year-old mahant travels in style, he also uses an iPhone and has a 42-inch LED TV.

Close circuit TVs are installed in the entire dera – the control room being in his room -- that is plush with fancy couches.

But when asked about his lavish lifestyle, he said, “I am a very simple person”. 

Nath outbid seven others to bag the coveted number, said registration and licensing authority (RLA) officials. The RLA earned nearly Rs.71 lakh from the auction.

Earlier on January 17, the auction of CH-01-AR series was cancelled due to “poor response and collusion by bidders”.

The highest bid for 0001 was Rs.3.51 lakh. But that was till the RLA got the much-needed divine help.