Putting aside how much the suit cost or even if the PM accepting an expensive gift from someone outside close family or foreign governments, the fact remains that the suit has managed to attract Rs 1.48 crore, more than 14 times the disputed price, and counting.
The irony is that in this, too, he has managed to draw flak. The auction has been dubbed a desperate “damage control” exercise to ‘purge’ him of his ‘sin’ of wearing an expensive to suit.
However, this isn’t the first time Modi has auctioned his belongings to raise funds. While I doubt that the auction of old clothes of any other politician in the country could attract such bids, the ‘star’ that Modi is, he has managed to raise crores from auctioning items gifted to him as the chief minister of Gujarat.
Sources say that he has auctioned close to 18,000 items during his 13-year stint at the CM of this western Indian state, and has managed to raise over Rs 90 crore that have gone into various welfare projects in the state including his pet project of Mukhya Mantri Kanya Kelavani Nidhi (Girl Child Welfare Fund).
Recent reports say Rameshkumar Bhikabhai Virani, a diamond and jewellery tycoon, has claimed that he gifted the suit to the Prime Minister in January as a part of an invitation to his son’s wedding on January 26.
Virani has claimed that Modi could not attend the wedding, but wore the suit on January 26 to extend his blessings for the couple, a story that might actually succeed in striking a chord with many in this saas-bahu serial obsessed nation.
While Virani may be making a sincere attempt to explain the reasons behind the PM wearing an “I-Me-Myself” suit, he seems to be oblivious to the fact that the PM wore it on January 25, and not the day of the wedding, to a meeting with Obama at Hyderabad House.
The bottomline, though, is not the price of the suit but how Modi, smart marketer that he is, has indeed managed to make the most of even this controversy and raise money for one of his pet projects (the proceeds will go to the Clean Ganga campaign), a fact that even his strongest critics won’t be able to deny. And in doing so, he has set a trend, this time on the national stage, of high profile auctioning of personal belongings of leading politicians, a feat so far reserved for the country’s beloved cricketers and Bollywood actors.
It’s an altogether a different story whether he himself chose the monogrammed fabric, or if someone indeed gifted it to him.