Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "name-striped" suit was the star of a charity auction that began today in Gujarat's Surat. A businessman has bid Rs. 1.21 crore for it, outdoing at least two other crore-plus offers.
The controversial suit, worn by the prime minister just once, went on sale along with more than 450 other gifts he has received, to raise money to clean the river Ganga.
The first bid for Rs. 51 lakh was put in by Rajubhai Agarwal, a BJP leader. "I would have bid more if I could. It is most valuable for me," he said.
Suresh Agrawal, a textile businessman, doubled that offer, but the highest bid so far is by another businessman, Rajesh Juneja.
The bidding is open till Friday.
PM Modi was accused by opposition parties of narcissism when he wore the suit with the words "Narendra Damodardas Modi" woven into it in tiny gold letters during US President Barack Obama's visit to India last month.
"The auction is a damage control exercise. The PM made a mockery of the poor by wearing a suit like this...It showed how egotistic this person is," Congress leader Ajay Maken told NDTV. His party's vice president Rahul Gandhi had commented at a rally in Delhi that he wore a "10 lakh-rupee suit Made in UK."
The suit was tailored by Jade Blue in Ahmedabad, the clothing chain that handles the Prime Minister's wardrobe.
Ramesh Kumar, the man who gifted the custom-made material to PM Modi, said, "I told Modiji, it is my son's wedding. You have to wear the suit and bless my son."
There is no base price on PM Modi's articles, says senior Surat official Rajendra Kumar. "They are personal property and have not been evaluated," Mr Kumar told NDTV.
When he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi made it a tradition to auction his gifts for charity.