In the affidavit filed by Modi with his nomination papers for the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, the Gujarat Chief Minister has mentioned the name of Jashodaben in the column prescribed for his spouse. However, in the columns seeking details regarding spouse, Modi has said ‘have no information’.
Modi, 63, has so far contested four Assembly elections but had never mentioned the name of his spouse in the prescribed column. He always left it blank. Even in public, he has never talked about being married. In fact, he has always said he had no family life and his life was dedicated to the nation. During his speeches, Modi even said since he did not have a family, he could not do corruption.
According to reports, Jashodaben, 62, is a retired government school teacher in Vadnagar, Modi’s hometown.
Soon after the news of Modi’s wife became public, his elder brother, Somabhai Damodardas Modi, had stated Modi had left home at a very young age to serve the nation and society and urged people not to judge him on his child marriage.
“I would like to urge the people of India not to judge Narendra Modi today on basis of an incident that took place some 45-50 years ago. What happened 45-50 years ago should be viewed in perspective of a decision taken by a conservative family in those times,” Somabhai said in a statement.
He said Narendra Modi was quite different from others, as he was impressed by Vivekananda and Buddha. “Our parents considered Narendra to be a normal child and got him married at a very young age. But for Narendra, service to the nation was foremost. So, he left home. His childhood marriage with Jashodaben Chimanbhai Modi merely became a formality. Narendra had left home soon after his marriage,” he added.
“Today, even after 45-50 years, he (Narendra Modi) is away from the family. Jashodaben also went back to her father’s home and took up the job of teacher. Narendra Modi has lived the life of penance. We have to take it for granted that people know him more than us family members,” he stated.
“Narendra Modi has reached this stage of his life after hard work and the blessings of millions of people. At the stage that he is, there is bound to be discussion on his behaviour and what he says. Criticism is obvious,” Somabhai added.
What, then, compelled Modi to admit after so many years that he was, in fact, married? BJP insiders said that legal advisors of the party had asked Modi to come clean on the issue as this time, he was contesting a Lok Sabha election and was prime ministerial nominee of BJP.
However, the Gujarat Congress has decided to file an objection with the state election official on this disclosure by the BJP’s PM nominee. “First of all, Modi should seek an apology from the people of Gujarat for misleading them and not disclosing about his marriage to Jashodaben,” Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia said.
“We are going to file an objection with the EC over this new disclosure that Modi has made. Never during his tenure as member of Gujarat assembly, has Modi disclosed his marital status. We will take all legal actions possible,” he added.
Modhwadia said that Modi who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections on the grounds of transparency and good governance, had betrayed the people by hiding his marriage with Jashodaben.
Sources in the state election office said that this disclosure by Modi would not have any legal implications. “Since previously it was not mandatory for candidates to disclose spouses name or details, many chose to leave the space seeking details of their spouse’ blank. Now that the Supreme Court has made it mandatory for candidates to fill in all details, candidates will have to fill all the information,” the source said, adding, “Modi’s disclosure will not have an impact on his candidature.”
Modi has also declared assets worth Rs 1.51 crore, which include Rs 51.57 lakh in the form of cash, bank deposits, bonds and jewellery. He has declared a house in the state capital, Gandhinagar, which, according to the present valuation, is worth approximately Rs 1 crore.