PM Narendra Modi's birthday auction puts gold Buddha and javelins on sale

Celebrities including cricketers Kevin Pietersen and Suresh Raina share good wishes

India's Ministry of Culture announced it would auction off more than 1,000 items to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday on Friday.

The items are all gifts given to the Indian leader, including sporting equipment from Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medal winners. The sale, open from September 17 to October 7, offers buyers the chance to own javelins used by Indian Paralympian gold winner Sumit Antil and Olympic gold winner Neeraj Chopra.

Chopra's javelin is currently bidding at 1,206,0500 rupees ($164,099) with 20 days left to bid.

Photographs, paintings and souvenirs given to Mr Modi by local and foreign dignitaries are also on sale in the online auction.

Organisers have set upper limits on how much items can go for, to prevent false bids or claims of corruption. It is the fourth such auction since Mr Modi came to power in 2014. The amount of money raised for charity in the sales has not been made public.

The culture ministry said all proceeds will go to the Namami Gange Mission, aimed at conserving and rejuvenating the River Ganges.

Mr Modi turned 71 on Friday and good wishes began rolling in from the early hours. Cricketers Suresh Raina and Kevin Pietersen joined thousands of others in wishing him a happy birthday,

But some used trending hashtags on Twitter to draw attention to the premier's failings, including a high unemployment rate and the Covid-19 crisis, which has killed more than 440,000 people in India.

Offline, supporters of Mr Modi and his BJP party took to the streets to celebrate. In India's second largest state, Madhya Pradesh, supporters enjoyed a 21.5-metre cake in the shape of a syringe to encourage vaccinations on Mr Modi's birthday.

"We are viewing it as a day of service to people. A total of 71 people have pledged to donate blood today. Even the cake was 71 feet long," a BJP worker told Asian News International.

Updated: September 17, 2021, 7:10 AM