Bidding for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pinstripe monogrammed suit intensified Thursday with a diamond trader offering Rs 1.41 crore, the highest so far, on the second day of the auction.
Two bids of Rs 1.41 crore and Rs 1.39 crore were received this afternoon in quick succession for the suit that Modi wore during US President Barack Obama's India visit last month, eclipsing the earlier offer of Rs 1.25 crore made this morning.
Bhavnagar-based Ship-breaker and diamond trader Komalkant Sharma, who is CMD of Leela Group of Companies, has offered Rs 1.41 crore for the two-piece suit, which according to some reports cost nearly Rs 10 lakh.
"He (Sharma) has bid for Modi suit as it is for the good cause of `Clean Ganga Mission'. He will be here tomorrow and, if necessary, he will increase the bid amount," Sharma's representative Chirag Mehta, who had come to submit the written bid, told PTI.
Few minutes prior to that, Surat-based diamond trader Mukesh Patel had made a bid of Rs 1.39 crore.
"There are many items but I preferred Modi suit. I will keep that incredible suit like a diamond," Patel said, adding that he was inspired by by the Prime Minister's 'Clean Ganga Mission'.
"When Narendrabhai was chief minister of Gujarat, he held such auctions for education of the girl child. Now, he is Prime Minister and he is making an appeal to clean Ganga. That is the reason that I made this bid," Patel said.
A visitor looks at PM Narendra Modi’s pinstripe monogrammed bandhgala suit during its auction in Surat. (PTI Photo)
Earlier, Surat-based Rajesh Maheshwari, who has established a 'Global Modi Fan Club', made an offer of Rs 1.25 crore, Rs four lakh more than yesterday's highest bid which ended at Rs 1.21 crore.
"We are true supporters of Modi and that is the reason we made the bid of Rs 1.25 crore," Maheswari said.
"We are 5,000 friends on various social networking websites. Yesterday, I made a proposal to make this bid and they agreed. If each person provides Rs 50,000 then the amount can be easily generated," he said.
Maheswari said the suit could be given on rent for weddings or for allowing people to click selfies to generate money which can then be used for a good cause.
On Wednesday, another textile businessmen Rajesh Juneja had made a written bid of Rs 1.21 crore for the navy blue suit, which is the star attraction at the three-day auction. There were four other bids of less than Rs 1.21 crore.
The suit, that kicked up a political controversy, is being auctioned along with 455 items that Modi received as gifts during his nearly nine-month tenure to generate funds for the 'Clean Ganga Mission'.
The auction at the Science Convention Centre will close at 5pm Friday after which the articles will be handed over to the highest bidder.
Modi was photographed wearing the suit during his summit talks with Obama in 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 -- and embroidered on the fabric vertically down the stripe.
Cong, AAP criticise auction
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.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had raised the issue of Modi's expensive suit during the campaign for Delhi Assembly polls in which the BJP and the Congress were routed.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had called Modi a "megalomaniac."
Congress, AAP and TMC had on Wednesday taken potshots at Modi over putting his suit on the block and termed the auction as a "damage control" exercise.
Congress had demanded that the process of auctioning should immediately be stopped and it should be deposited with the 'Toshakhana'.
"This is happening three weeks after the suit was worn by Modi... This is a damage control exercise. Damage control of his reputation," Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken said.
AAP ridiculed Modi over the auction of his suit.
"Narendra Modi and the BJP have mastered the art of marketing. The sale of the suit is nothing, but marketing itself," senior party leader Ashutosh told reporters.
"This is DCPR, Damage Control Public Relations, this has nothing to do with Ganga cleaning," TMC leader Derek O'Brien MP tweeted from Kolkata.
Maken said, "Wearing of a suit of Rs 10 lakh was criticised not only in India, but globally... The people didn't like the way the Prime Minister wore the suit while meeting the President of the US... So as a damage control exercise this was done by the Prime Minister." Maken said.