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Indians furious about lavish wedding thrown by Janardhan Reddy amidst currency swap chaos
ABC Radio Australia - November 17, 2016
The $5 billion rupee ($97 million) wedding of ex-state minister Gali Janardhan Reddy's daughter Brahmani has been seen as an inappropriate parade of wealth with its gold-plated invitations fitted with LED screens to the price of the bride's sari: $170 million rupees ($3 million).
The mining baron also paid for the Bangalore Palace grounds to be turned into a replica of the Vijayanagara kingdom, employed 3,000 bouncers and over 300 police personnel, and reportedly arranged 15 helipads to fly in guests.
The wedding comes as the nation's poorest are worried about having enough to eat due to the Government's decision to withdraw 85 per cent of hard currency.
The snap announcement was part of a crackdown on rampant corruption and counterfeit currency, and was designed to bring billions of dollars worth of black market money into the mainstream economy.
People have 50 days to exchange the old money for new, and chaos has already ensued with people having to wait in bank queues for hours, forced to miss work to obtain money.
Cash dependency is high in India with 45 per cent of the population without bank accounts. Since the announcement, trade in fruit, vegetables and food staples – usually all done in cash – is down 60 per cent.
In the face of this turmoil, the wedding has been dubbed a "vulgar display of wealth" and many Indians are "sickened" by the exorbitant cost of the occasion.
"This is India, where we have a politician spending crores for a marriage and a common man waiting in queue for his daily expense," said Nirmal Krishnan from Palakkad.
"While the common man is wondering when and how to get those redundant notes exchanged... Reddy was busy recreating the Vijayanagara empire," said Divya Viswanathan from Chennai.
However Mr Reddy's cash splash has come to the attention of the income tax department who are probing his source of funds for the wedding, the Times of India reports. The complaint issued to the tax department alleges Mr Reddy has committed tax evasion.
It is also being reported by Indian media that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suggested its members stay away from the wedding in the wake of the demonetisation move.
Mr Reddy was accused of two counts of illegal mining in 2011 and spent more than three years in jail before being granted bail in 2015.