In our previous issue, I told you about why and how our Prime Minister abandoned his wife Jashodaben Modi. Today, I’m trying to draw some conclusion from Jashodaben’s interview which she has given to various publication houses. On February 2014, the Indian Express newspaper finally scored a rare interview with Jashodaben in which she declared she did not feel bad by her husband’s abandonment. In that interview, she claimed that they married at 17, not 18, and that they never divorced. “He told me once that ‘I will be travelling across the country and will go… where I please; what will you do following me?’ When I came to Vadnagar to live with his family, he told me ‘why did you come to your in-laws’ house when you are still so young, you must instead focus on pursuing your studies,” Jashodaben said. “On many occasions, when I went to my in-laws’ place, he would not be present and he stopped coming there. He used to spend a lot of time in RSS shakhas. So, I too stopped going there after a point.”
Referring to Modi’s refusal to acknowledge her existence, she stated: “In such situations, he has to say such things and also has to lie.” She also denied that there was any venom in their break-up, insisting that they “parted on good terms … there were never any fights. In three years, we may have been together for all of three months.” Jashodaben also lamented: “There has been no communication from his end to this day. I don’t think he will ever call me.”
Modi’s peculiar marital (or bachelor) status has not gone unnoticed by opposition or rival Congress. Press Trust of India reported that Digvijay Singh, a senior Congress leader and general-secretary, attacked the Modi, during his ‘outstanding’ election campaign. “I want to ask [Modi] if there is slightest respect for women in his heart, why does he leave blank the column where his wife’s name should be written in the election form,” Singh sneered. “Why Gujarat’s ‘who’s who’ does not mention his wife’s name? Why Modi is silent on his marital status? ‘Poor’ Jashodaben, a retired school teacher lives in a rented house. He became such a powerful man then also he never got her a bungalow or any other facilities. How [can] somebody, who cannot respect and take care of his wife, will look after the nation?” Another Congress figure alleged that Jashodaben left her husband, not the other way round. “Modi has always been anti-feminist. His wife left him because he failed to respect her,” Congress Leader Renuka Chowdhary had said.
However, there is much confusion and contradiction over Modi’s attitude towards his estranged wife. Last April, Daily Bhaskar reported that Modi and Jashodaben met in the chief minister’s official residence in Gujarat, although there was no official confirmation from either Modi’s office or the BJP about this. Moreover, Modi is the first Indian leader without a spouse (but married). Sumit Ganguly, professor of political science and director of the Center for American and Global Security at the Indiana University School of Global and International Studies in Bloomington, noted that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, another BJP figure who served as PM from 1998-2004, never married and it was never an issue for him.
When he successfully contested four successive elections to become chief minister of Gujarat, he had always left blank the column on documents that asked about his marital status. Anyway, one fine day, Modi filed nomination papers for the seat of Vadodara, one of two constituencies from where he was contesting; he entered the name Jashoda in the column that asked about his family. He was unable to provide her address. Having long presented himself as a single man and boasted of his bachelor status as something that had ensured he had kept away from corruption or nepotism, Modi’s confirmation that he was indeed married was seized on by his opponents. The issue of the Narendra Modi’s estranged wife and their arranged marriage 45 long years ago found itself front and centre in India’s increasingly bitter election campaign after the presumed frontrunner confirmed for the first time that he still considered himself to be wed.
The declaration of his marital status got him lots of embracement, but his family and supporters gave a defence argument saying Gautam Buddha also left his wife, son and kingship for a noble cause of enlightening others. Modi left his wife from last 45 years to become PM. What an argument! Buddha left his wife searching for a solution to end the miseries of the world. Modi left his wife to fulfil his own ambitions. Buddha tried to solve problems of his people. Modi tries to inflate balance sheet of a few. Modi has always left the column for information on marital status in his affidavits blank, marking the space with a hyphen. This is the first time; he has publicly acknowledged the existence of her. Whereas, Buddha was honest in his “Grihasta Aashram” (family life) loved his wife, returned to her when he attained what he wanted and then gave his life for mankind. Anyway, let us not stretch this meaningless comparison anymore. I’m ending here; tomorrow – in the final and concluding part — I will put some light on other issues involving Jashodaben and Narendra Modi’s relation.
To read Part 1 click here… Jashodaben: PM Narendra Modi’s estranged wife – Part 1