Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suit with its unique monogram pinstripes was auctioned for a staggering bid of Rs 4.31 crore on Friday after a last-minute scramble by several businessmen to get hold of the two-piece ensemble, one among 455 others items sold to raise money for clean-up of the Ganga, a pet project of the PM.
Laljibhai Patel, chairman of Dharmanandan Diamonds, made the winning bid minutes before Surat-based builder Lavji Badshah bid Rs 5 crore for the suit. Badshah's bid, however, was rejected as it was made after the 5pm-deadline.
Earlier on Friday, another businessman quoted Rs 4.17 crore for the suit PM Modi wore during US President Barack Obama's India visit last month.
"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 dark suit went up for auction on Wednesday in the PM's home state. Photographs of the suit showing Modi's name monogrammed in dull gold stripes had earlier gone viral on social media.
The suit had triggered a national debate and the Prime Minister was slammed by his political opponents for wearing an expensive suit. The PM was also mocked for narcissism after wearing the bespoke wool suit with the words "Narendra Damodardas Modi" woven into it in tiny letters.
The Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress took potshots at Modi over putting his suit on the block and termed it as a "damage control" exercise.
This is not the first time Modi has auctioned off gifts for charity - as chief minister of Gujarat, he gave away some 18,000 items for girls' education.
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.
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 something 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 PTI.
"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'.