The fact that Prime Minister Modi and former PM Manmohan Singh have diametrically opposed personalities is no longer a secret. However, the manner in which the two leaders used the gifts that they received during their tenure goes on to show a difference in intent and priorities between the two leaders.
A 2014 RTI query had revealed that the previous prime minister had taken home a fancy Bose music system and a Piaget ladies wrist watch among 101 unique gifts that he received during his tenure as the prime minister of the country by heads of states whose countries he had visited in his official capacity. The gifts were retained by Manmohan Singh as permitted under the Foreign Contribution (Acceptance or Retention of Gifts or Presentations) Regulations 1978 and Foreign Contribution (Acceptance or Retention of Gifts or Presentations) Rules, 2012.
Apart from this, Manmohan Singh’s memorabilia included crockery, decorative pieces, fine glass items, gold and silver-plated vessels, replicas, carpet, jewelry pieces, paintings, ceramic and porcelain artwork and other things. It includes things of a low value of around Rs. 300 as well as some expensive things with a value of up to Rs. 35,000.
While former PM Manmohan Singh took home such expensive gifts, current PM, Narendra Modi has dealt with the mementos gifted to him in a totally different manner. 1800 mementos gifted to PM Narendra Modi have been auctioned to raise funds for the visionary ‘Namami Gange’ project on day one of the auction. The two-day auction started on January 27. While the physical auction would culminate on January 28, an e-auction will take place from January 29-31 for the remaining items. For e-auctioning of the mementos, a website has been hosted. The website has a detailed display of all the mementos of PM Modi. Any visitor can categorise them either through price range or through the various categories such as ‘gold’, ‘silver’, ‘brass’, ‘ceramic’, ‘glass’, ‘wood’ and ‘photo’. The online mementos descriptions also include some other details like its dimensions, weight and who gifted it to the Prime Minister. While an extra handling and shipping charge, ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 200 will be applicable on the product; these souvenirs are not taxable and kept out of Goods and Service Tax (GST) bracket.
This is not for the first time that gifts received by PM Modi have gone under the hammer. Earlier in 2016, the famous, ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi’ monogrammed pinstripes suit of PM Modi, was auctioned for a record amount of Rs 4.31 crore. The amount that was raised at that time was too invested in the cleaning of the river Ganga. The suit was worn by PM Narendra Modi during his meeting with the then US President Barack Obama. The suit was auctioned and was bought by Laljibhai Patel, a diamond baron and private airline owner from Gujarat.
The fact that gifts received by PM Modi are being auctioned for a national cause goes on to show that he has been conducting himself like a true statesman. Such acts separate him from the rest when it comes to the leadership of the country. This comparison between PM Modi and former PM Manmohan Singh speaks volumes about the difference in their personalities and dedication towards the national cause.