New Delhi: सिर्फ़ News has received photographs of unseemly displays of gold jewellery by certain politicians just a day after the government scared the whole country with poor communication of a proposed amendment to an old law. While a few of those wearing gaudy and expensive jewellery are not politicians, they are no less answerable to the tax department. The same act by representatives of the people looks, of course, more brazen.
The adjoining photo is of Shiv Sena leader Anoop Swarup. He reportedly wears gold weighing 2 kg all over his body. On research, the allegation turned out to be almost correct. When he made news on 27 February this year, he was wearing a kilogram of gold.
He was spotted that day at a demonstration where an outfit called the Maratha Sangh was demanding reservations in education and employment for its caste. Swarup reportedly moves around surrounded by a posse of security personnel to safeguard his life and the ornaments he sports all the time in public places.
This is Jagdish Gaikwad who reportedly has gold ornaments weighing a kilogram on his body all the time. He is the president of the Raigadh district unit of the Republican Party of India (Athavale). His supreme leader Ramdas Athavale happens to be a Rajya Sabha MP who is part of the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre.
It is strange that while the media speaks of several ‘gold men’ of Maharashtra at different points of time, Gaikwad just gets a passing mention in the last paragraph in most reports of the type. He is into the business of pipelines.
The next photograph is curious. It’s of a godman. Far from renunciation from the materialistic world, this Golden Baba flaunts the yellow metal wherever he goes. In July, The Hindustan Times wrote about him, “At any given time, this holy man is adorned with 12 kg of gold, including rings, chains and lockets, worth about Rs 4 crore.” He claims that all the gold he wears is his way of showing respect to Goddess Lakshmi.
If that was not enough, he travels in a luxurious SUV, Toyota’s Fortuner. His ashram is located in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. He had grabbed news headlines during the last Kanwar Yatra that marks pilgrimage to Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri, abodes of Lord Shiva, a Hindu god on whose idol one finds no sign of material opulence!
The next guy is Samrat Bhau Moze. He is an NCP leader based in Pune. The gold ornaments he is seen sporting weigh more than 8 kg. He says he was inspired to wear so much of gold by the late Ramesh Wanjale, an MLA of the MNS. But Wanjale used to wear much less gold, though much more than what people encounter normally. He was seen with 2 kg of gold jewellery wherever he went.
This 34-year-old politician is apparently a real estate agent. He spells “owner” as “oner” and “agent” as “ajnt” on Facebook. Perhaps to address his guilty conscience, he posts photographs of some weirdos who sport more gold than him.
Mahesh Soni has earned the epithet of the “Lord of the Rings” for famously wearing 52 rings in his fingers. He has been wearing these rings for the past 14 years. That’s not all. The rings are studded with gemstones including pokhraj (yellow sapphire), moonga (red coral), gomed (hessonite garnet stone), manik (ruby) and navratnas studded with diamonds. Additionally, he wears a bracelet and gold chain around his right wrist. The cost of all this gold is reported to be Rs 1 crore.
Soni lives in Ratlam of Madhya Pradesh and is a jeweller by profession.
He has told media persons that he helped a Jain muni a few years ago, who wished to bless a person who wore rings in all his fingers. Soni believes he did his bit in ensuring that the holy man met with a person of his dreams.
Then we have Pankaj Parakh, the most dramatic of them all. He has got a shirt made out of gold, weighing 4.10 kg and costing about Rs 1.3 crore. As many as 20 artisans worked on this shirt for 3,200 hours, spread over 2 months, to put hundreds of 18-22 carat pure gold strands together and ‘stitch’ them with gold threads. The man has earned himself a place in the Guinness World Records for this ‘feat’.
Parakh also wears a gold watch, gold chains, large gold rings, a gold mobile cover and golden-framed spectacles. All these put together makes the weight of gold that he wears daily as much as 10 kgs.
Not only does Parakh carry a gun but there are also two security guards always flanking him.
Last but not least, there is Datta Phuge. This 35-year-old member of the NCP wears a shirt of gold wearing 3.5 kg that cost him Rs 1.25 crore. Interestingly, he believes that his odd shirt helps him in politics as it attracts more crowd to his electoral campaigns!
Phuge is also a reality show personality who has appeared on Marathi language television wearing a golden belt, chains and bracelets, spending about Rs 6 crore more on these ‘accessories’ over and above his shirt of gold.
These NCP politicians couldn’t care less even when, in 2013, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had appealed to all her party members and allies to lead a life of austerity.
The list of Indians with a fetish of gold could be somewhat longer. The issue is now whether the taxmen would pay renewed visits to them even though this shirt is quite famous and known to have been bought with all white money. It is to be explored why one sees a concentration of these men in the State of Maharashtra where people traditionally wear minimalist ornaments of gold of less than 22 carats.
Finally, while a private person is entitled to do whatever he desires with his money, a politician steeped in gold seeking votes in slums and villages could be seen as being insensitive to the plight of the poor. They do it even in parched lands of Vidarbha that is infamous for suicides of indebted farmers.