Describing himself as a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, the owner of his personal items that are going under the hammer said he is ready to give them to the Indian government for "free" if it decides to spend five per cent of its GDP on poor.
James Otis, the owner of the Mahatma's items, told PTI he plans to donate most of the money collected from the auction to "worthy causes" and institutions and groups working to promote Mahatma's ideals especially non violence.
Otis said he will "donate the items to the Indian government free if it decides to spend five per cent of GDP on the poor, who were very near to the heart of Gandhi, or announces some other scheme which would benefit them".
The statement of Otis came as several Indian-American leaders, including leading hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, announced their intention to bid for the items and, if successful, hand them over to the Indian government.
It was not clear whether Otis would be able to get out the contract with auctioneers who get commission on the sale but he said an arrangement could be worked out between them.
Antiquorum Auctioneers' spokesperson was immediately not available for comment and an email sent did not elicit any response.
The auctioneers had valued Gandhi's belonging being auctioned at around $20,000 to 30,000 but the controversy could raise the price much higher.