BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi filing his affidavit before the returning officer of Vadodara constituency for the Lok Sabha elections on April 9, 2014
After years of silence on the issue, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has finally acknowledged his marriage in the affidavit that he filed with his nomination papers in the Vadodara constituency of Gujarat for the coming Lok Sabha elections.
He mentioned his wife's name, Jashodaben, in the column for the name of the candidate's spouse in the affidavit.
In a similar affidavit filed for the 2012 elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, in which he led his party to a third consecutive win, Mr Modi had left the column blank.
In yesterday's affidavit, uploaded onto the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat, Mr Modi, however, has simply said "not known" in all other columns related to his wife, including details of her income, her income tax permanent account number (PAN), assets and liabilities, investments, bank accounts and properties.
Mr Modi, 63, the Chief Minister of Gujarat since October 2001, has not spoken in public about his wife, though some newspapers and magazines have occasionally reported about her and one of them carried an interview with her some months ago. The reports said the couple, who got married when they were very young, had separated soon after.
His silence on the issue had invited attacks from his opponents and the Congress has repeatedly asked him to "come clean" on his marital status.
Mr Modi's main opponent in Vadodara is prominent Congress leader Madhusudhan Mistry. He is also contesting from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, where he is pitted against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
As Mr Modi's admission set off a flurry of comments by his supporters and opponents on social media websites, his elder brother Somabhai Damodardas Modi issued a three-page statement today, stating that the BJP leader was married to Jashodaben about 45 years ago when he still a minor and the family was poor and uneducated.
Mr Somabhai Modi said his brother had given up on all worldy things to dedicate his life to the service of the nation and his marriage, conducted at a time when his parents were stuggling financially and had to adhere to various social traditions of the time, should not be judged according to the standards of today.
Mr Somabhai Modi said their family was poor and not well-educated and had to adhere to social traditions and practices of those times. He said that his parents, who were not well-educated, could not recognize Mr Narendra Modi's zeal to dedicate his life for the nation. "In those circumstances, our parents got Narendrabhai married at a very young age," he said.
He went on to say that Mr Narendra Modi left his home and his wife soon after that and devoted his life to work for the country. "His marriage with Jashodaben was reduced to a mere formality," he said.
"Today, even 45-50 years after that, Narendrabhai is away from his family. Jashodaben lives in her parents' house and had worked in the field of education," he said, referring to her career as a school teacher, from which she has retired recently.
"This incident of 45-50 years ago should be seen against the background of the then prevailing circumstances of a poor and superstitious family. That is our prayer to everyone," the statement added.
After becoming the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, Mr Modi had in some campaign speeches said that he had no family ties. "I am alone. Who will I be corrupt for?" he had asked, while drawing attention to allegations of corruption and nepotism against his political rivals.
Jashodaben, 62, told a newspaper recently that she was maried to Mr Modi when he was 17 and that they had separated three years later, after which they had never been in touch. Even in those three years they were together for hardly three months, the report quoted her as saying.
She also said that she knows that he will become the Prime Minister of the country one day and that she does not feel bad that he had cut her off from his life or that he had never acknowledged her.
She said she reads everything about him but does not think that he will ever call her.
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