Businessman and politician Gali Janardhana Reddy has sparked outrage in poverty-stricken India after throwing a $74 million wedding for his daughter, Brahmani.
With gold-plated invitations fitted with LED screens and performances from Bollywood stars, critics have described the five-day extravaganza as an “obscene display of wealth.”
State health minister, KR Ramesh Kumar, did not join in the celebration, telling The Telegraph, “I will not attend such marriages if any of my relatives or friends indulge in displaying such wealth.”
The wedding, attended by 50,000 people, took place at the Bangalore Palace a few days following an announcement from the Indian government that it would ban 500 and 1,000 rupee notes ($7 and $14 notes, respectively) in an effort to end illegal cash holding. The result has made the currency that most Indians use everyday in the country’s cash-based economy redundant, affecting low-income workers including traders and ordinary savers, according to Daily Mail.
The move has prompted long lines outside of banks, where people are depositing or exchanging expired money, and frustration has spread throughout the country.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said there is “chaos everywhere” as a result of the money shortage, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to continue to fight corruption and tax defaulters.
“If unaccounted money is found out during the current clean up drive, accounts of tax evaders dating back to the country’s independence in 1947 will be checked. If required I will hire people for this task,” Modi said.
Weddings in India are tradionally very elaborate and services are often paid for in cash, which Reddy had done six months ago when the planning commenced.
The former member of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka reportedly mortgaged his own properties in Bangalore and Singapore in order to pay for the wedding.
Also in attendance were Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara, DK Shivakumar, BJP State President BS Yedurappa, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala and other politicians, the International Business Times reported.
Bollywood movie stars in attendance included Puneeth Rajkumar, Ravichandran, Geetha Shivarajkumar, director Sai Prakash, Jayanthi, Dwarakish with his son Yogish, Jaggesh, Srinath, Ganesh, Bullet Prakash, Telugu comedian Brahmanandam, Sharath Babu, B Sarojadevi, Malashri, Saikumar, Sadhu Kokila, Suman, KFCC President Sa Ra Govindu, Tamil actor and secretary of Nadigar Sangam, Vishal Krishna and others.
Still, Indians took to social media to express their anger about the ceremony with one commenting, “Seesh!! How former BJP Minister Gali Janardhana Reddy had to stand in queue outside a bank to exchange Rs. 4,000 for his daughter’s wedding.”
Seesh!! How former BJP Minister Gali Janardhana Reddy had to stand in queue outside a bank to exchange Rs. 4,000 for his daughter's wedding.
— Nilim Dutta (@NilimDutta) November 15, 2016
“While ppl struggle to get ₹1000, former BJP leaders Reddy Bros do 500 crores marriage. Can Modiji not recover this?” another user tweeted.
While ppl struggle to get ₹1000, former BJP leaders Reddy Bros do 500 crores marriage. Can Modiji not recover this?https://t.co/3QEZHzKn2g
— Somu Kumar (@adivasi) November 14, 2016
Reddy had recently been locked up for alleged corruption and was released on bail in 2015.
Brahmani’s marriage ceremony wasn’t the only expensive wedding held in India. According to Forbes, Vanisha Mittal, the daughter of the country’s second wealthiest man, Lakshmi Mittal, and Amit Bhatia tied the knot with a $74 million wedding in 2004.