New Delhi, Mar 16: Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Monday raked up the issue of auction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monogrammed suit, saying sarcastically that the country could see the Finance Minister referring to this innovative way of funding public projects in his next budget speech.
He also wondered whether a standing committee would be set up involving industry and trade bodies like CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM to design such auctions so that these could become a regular feature for public good.
Contrasting the whopping Rs 4.31 crore bid a Gujarat- based businessman for Modi's monogrammed bandhgala suit last month with the much lesser amounts fetched in auctions of memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln in the past, the Congress leader asked, "Is our national pride linked to the here and now? Is our philanthropy directly proportionate to immediate fame and rewards?"
Writing under the title "The Festival of Auctions" on his blog, the former Telecom Minister said, "We have the wonderful specter of a Gujarat businessman gaining access, again through an auction, to a pin-striped monogrammed suit that caught the attention of the world by giving warmth to a 56-inch chest! The auction winning bid, was close to a million dollars!"
"The significance of this auction cannot be minimised, as it has with one drop of a hammer, surpassed the earnings from the sale of memorabilia of truly great statesmen of the past!" Wondering whether the businessman from Gujarat is waiting for opportunities to acquire more items, including coloured waistcoats and stylish kurtas, to set up a unique museum in the future, Sibal said,
"If that is the case, can we channelise the sentiment for a larger good?...Whatever be the Gujarat businessman's motivation, I hope, it sets a trend."
Modi's suit with his name woven into it in gold pinstripes which he wore during US President Barack Obama's visit here on Republic Day had had kicked up a political storm that continued even when the suit was auctioned last month.
In remarks laced with sarcasm, the former minister said that perhaps this is a great way of funding public projects, and getting our sluggish economy to move.
"You can kill two birds with one stone... Perhaps there are others like the Gujarat businessman, waiting in the wings to buy politicians' vests, shirts, and kurtas. Maybe even some expensive pens and signature watches, " Sibal said.
"We could have the Finance Minister, in his next Budget Speech, refer to this innovative way of funding public projects! He can provide a roadmap for such auctions and transparency in conducting them, as his government promises to do in every aspect of governance," Sibal said in a stinging comment.