Can Chatwal rescue Gandhi?

There are still a few hours before the hammer falls on Gandhi's memorabilia, but surely his memory would have been better served if influence peddlers and hucksters like Chatwal were kept away from appropriating the legacy of apostle of peace

Sanjay Kapoor Delhi, Hardnews

Later today, the auctioneer's gavel will fall on the precious memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi in New York. Amongst the bidders would be the dubious US based Indian hotelier, Sant Singh Chatwal, who would be representing a clutch of investors that want Gandhi's belongings to be brought home.

Chatwal, Hardnews learns, is being discretely used by the Indian government to pick up Gandhi's spectacles, Zenith watch, and a pair of sandals in the auction, if the last minute efforts by the Indian Consulate in New York do not succeed. Collector James Otis, who procured these items from different sources, is making strange demands like asking the Indian government to spend 5 per cent of the GDP on poor or paying for a travelling exhibition of the memorabilia to 78 countries. Gandhi's great grandson, Tussar, thinks that Otis is determined to go ahead with the auction and his demands are an attempt to buy time.

The news of the auction of Gandhi's belongings has seemingly upset vast legion followers. Suddenly, they have woken up to his missing belongings, if not his beliefs of peace and tolerance. All these years they never really cared where his reading glasses, his famous watch or his sandals were. Clearly, no one suspected that the caretakers of his goods would not sell them at the global antique bazaar. If this injury to his memory was not enough, some wise guys in Delhi and New York have seemingly asked hotelier Chatwal to outbid everyone else and bring back to India, Gandhi's precious and iconic reading glasses etc. It seems that the Chatwal through this deed, not only wants to earn the gratitude of the Indian government and its people, but also legitimacy after all the criminal cases that were filed against him in Delhi and elsewhere. For many years, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and other agencies had cases of financial malfeasance, bankruptcy against him. His proximity to Bill and Hillary Clinton had provided him protection from harm. Of late, he has been enjoying good working relationship with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led Indian government. Hardnews learns that he was an active player during the run up to the signing of civilian nuclear deal with USA.

There are still a few hours before the hammer falls on Gandhi's memorabilia, but surely his memory would have been better served if influence peddlers and hucksters like Chatwal were kept away from appropriating the legacy of apostle of peace.