Ty­coon hosts big, fat In­dian wed­ding amid cash crunch

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Acon­tro­ver­sial In­dian mining ty­coon has taken over a royal palace and flown in Brazil­ian dancers at a re­ported cost of $75 mil­lion to cel­e­brate his daugh­ter’s wed­ding, as the coun­try reels from a cash cri­sis. Up to 50,000 peo­ple are ex­pected at the sprawl­ing Ban­ga­lore Palace, a mock Tu­dor cas­tle in south­ern In­dia, to cel­e­brate the wed­ding of Gali Ja­nard­han Reddy’s daugh­ter, who was mar­ried in a Hindu cer­e­mony ear­lier in the day. Lo­cal me­dia crit­i­cized the ex­trav­a­gance at a time when many In­di­ans are strug­gling to find the cash to eat after the govern­ment’s shock move to pull high-value notes out of cir­cu­la­tion in a bid to tackle tax eva­sion.

But one as­so­ciate de­fended the lav­ish ex­pen­di­ture, say­ing Reddy wanted peo­ple to re­mem­ber the wed­ding of his only daugh­ter. “It is un­for­tu­nate that a daugh­ter’s wed­ding has been made an is­sue out of envy and ri­valry,” Manju Swamy told AFP ahead of the party. “It’s an im­por­tant mo­ment for her par­ents and they wanted to cel­e­brate the event in a way that be­fits the fam­ily’s sta­tus in so­ci­ety.” In­dia’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi an­nounced last week that that 500 and 1,000 ru­pee ($7.50, $15) bills — 85 per­cent of the cash in cir­cu­la­tion-would cease to be le­gal ten­der. In­di­ans can change a lim­ited num­ber of old notes for new ones at banks and post of­fices, but there have been huge queues since they re­opened last Thurs­day after clos­ing for a day fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment.

In­di­ans rely heav­ily on cash for their daily trans­ac­tions and those liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas or who do not have bank ac­counts have been par­tic­u­larly hard hit. The 49-yearold Reddy, a for­mer min­is­ter with the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the south­ern state of Kar­nataka, spent three years in jail for his al­leged in­volve­ment in a mining scam be­fore he was re­leased on bail last year. Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists in his home town last week, he re­fused to re­veal how much he was spend­ing on the cel­e­bra­tions, but said ev­ery­thing would be de­clared to the tax au­thor­i­ties.

Guests re­ceived their in­vi­ta­tions on LCD de­vices and the party venue re­port­edly in­cludes a mock-up of the he­lium bal­loons fea­tur­ing im­ages of the Reddy fam­ily are re­ported to be float­ing above the palace. In­dian ac­tivist T. Narasimha Murthy put the cost of the wed­ding at five bil­lion ru­pees (about $75 mil­lion), a fig­ure that tal­lied with lo­cal me­dia re­ports. “Reddy has hired about 3,000 bounc­ers and se­cu­rity guards to pre­vent me­dia and ac­tivists like me from barg­ing into the venue,” said Murthy, adding he had pe­ti­tioned lo­cal tax au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate.

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