PM Modi’s mementoes auctioned for Namami Gange project: Many complain about E auction

All the souvenirs and mementoes that PM Modi received throughout his tenure as the PM were auctioned at the National Gallery of Modern Art and the funds collected will go to the ‘Namami Gange’ project

Justine Siddiqui

All the souvenirs and mementoes that PM Modi received throughout his tenure as the Prime Minister were auctioned at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi from 12 pm on January 27 and 28. However, an E-auction will take place from 29th to the 31st so that people from all over India can participate in the auction which is expected to generate more funds.

The funds collected will go to the government's flagship project 'Namami Gange’. People participated in the auction enthusiastically.

About 1900 gifts which were auctioned ranged from colourful Pagadis (turbans) to swords, masks, poems dedicated to PM Modi to his lifelike paintings etc.

On the First day, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, MPs Manoj Tiwari and Meenakshi Lekhi visited the auction along with other dignitaries of the Government of India.

On the second day MP Udit Raj and Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Mahesh Sharma visited the auction.

The only gold-plated memento on auction is an idol of Radha and Krishna, the base price for which has been set at ₹20,000. The 4.76 kg idol was gifted to the prime minister by the Mandvi Nagar Palika in Surat. A 2.22-kg silver plate, gifted to the prime minister by former BJP MP C Narasimhan, priced at ₹30,000, is the most expensive memento in the catalogue with a blue brocade shawl with tassels being the least expensive at ₹200

According to a statement from the culture ministry of the Highest biddings a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj with a base price of ₹1,000 sold at ₹22,000, and a sword which sold at ₹18,000 were the items which drew the highest bidding.

National Herald spoke to many bidders, some satisfied and while some others upset and even furious with the organisers.

Mr JP Dutt said that he was excited for the event as it was the first time that a Prime Minister had put up the mementoes gifted to him for auction and was thus raising funds for such a noble cause

Dhirendra Vaish said such an event gave an opportunity to the citizens to contribute to a noble cause, therefore, called this step by the prime minister commendable. He also said, “such auctions must be carried out by other ministries for other causes to benefit the poor, to build infrastructure for villages and Swachh Bharat. And no price is higher than the cause.” He participated in the event on both the days.

Another visitor, Sanjay was delighted with the cheap base price and was pleased with the fact that the prime minister was contributing to the clean Ganga Project

Many students also participated in the event. Gaurav Pandey was among them. He felt it was ‘nice’ to become aware of the gifts that the Prime Minister had received from various countries. “Until Now we only saw what our Prime Ministers saw in museums, it was never accessible to people but now people can actually purchase what is owned by the PM. This is something different”

However, many people were seen engaged in a heated argument with the organisers.

Manendra Nath complained “I participated in the event yesterday as well and bought things worth ₹25,000  and today I raised my budget to  ₹2,00,000. However, the organisers refused to display many items which they did yesterday and have put them for E-auction instead.”

Praveen Jain bought many things on Sunday, January 27. “Cleaning Ganga is a good cause and he passionately supports the cause. But I waited for the souvenirs till 5 pm yesterday, and have been waiting for them again today since 11 am but the list has been changed” He was upset with the fact that after spending around ₹20,000 lacs on the publicity of the physical auction, most of the gifts were put up for online auction instead.

Shivam Gautam said, “more expensive items were removed from the Physical auction as the organisers are expecting richer customers online.” He said that he is ready to pay more provided those same objects which were displayed on the first day were made available. He argued that auctions like this for a good cause must have a fair deal. On Monday, only the gifts worth ₹2000 were available for auction, which is highly unfair.

Another visitor, Mukesh Gupta said that he had been waiting for gifts since yesterday as it was told to people that some items including statues, were for auction on day one while some were kept for day two and he had prepared a list accordingly. But he was shocked when he came to know that those items were moved to E-auction”

Shubhankar Bharadwaj also lamented the fact that some items of his interest were moved to E-auction and they will become more expensive as the number of bidders will increase online.

However, it is important to note that PM Modi has organised such an event a few months before elections in the name of ‘Namami Gange Programme’ to clean and conserve Ganga. Interestingly this is an Integrated Conservation Programme of the Union Government which was launched in June 2014 with the budget outlay of ₹20,000 Crore to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga. One might wonder if the auction will generate enough amount to clean Ganga, a task which was undertaken four and a half years ago.

With PTI inputs

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