Modi’s wife


At last the horrible secret is out. Courtesy an Indian Express scoop, we know that Modi has a wife, whom he hasn’t seen or talked with in the last 42 years.

Apparently, they never got divorced. Jashodaben is reported to have said they only saw each other occasionally for the first three years, of which they spent only three months together, since Modi travelled a lot on Shakha business. Thereafter Modi applied himself solely to the RSS. Jashodaben, as advised by Modi, got herself educated and worked as a teacher. She never got any support from Modi, or his family, but was not ill-treated either, by him, or his family. The marriage simply died away and she returned to her brother’s home.

A tragic tale of millions of middle class, urban Indian girls, whose only future and function in the 1960’s was to get married.

How is this likely to affect the Modi electoral juggernaut? The bulk of the electorate is unlikely to bother much. Abandoning wives to their own devices, is a national habit, which whilst not celebrated, or condoned, is accepted as a possible outcome of poverty or other compulsions. This approach is aligned to traditions which prescribe socially limited roles for wives. This is evidenced by Jashodaben’s own placid acceptance of the situation; continued admiration for Modi and his spectacular “personal” achievements and a willingness to share in his glory should he invite her to do so.

The few who are horrified, view this incident as yet another piece in the puzzle which unpeels the true Modi. A socially backward looking, egotistical man, focused on self-advancement. Of course this is the correct view.

National leaders are rarely expected to be sinless unless they are American Presidents. Obama is so squeaky clean that he is unreal. His only sins are lighting up a smoke and a light hearted “selfie” at Mandela’s funeral with the attractive, blonde, Danish Prime Minister and Cameron. India is today more aligned to the American way of doing things, than ever before. The Lok Sabha elections themselves are being managed like Presidential elections. This makes the personal lives of “Prime Ministerial” candidates fair play, in the run up to the elections.

Godhra, “snoopgate” and Jashodaben are now three issues that Modi needs to publicly talk about.

After Arnab’s scoop of Rahul’s TV interview, it is time Modi gave a similar opportunity to a Hindi TV channel. Modi’s executive capabilities are well known and not all the Planning Commission’s rebuttal statistics can convince people that Bihar is a better place to live in than Gujarat.

But Godhra does need to be put to rest. Rahul’s interview confirmed the widely held view that the Congress was complicit in the 1984 riots and subsequently loathe to pursue the criminals. It is not enough for Modi to rely on the serial judicial confirmations exonerating him and the positive statistics on convictions by the court in Godhra versus the low conviction rate in 1984 . He needs to be open to a free-wheeling discussion about what he went through, whilst Godhra was happening. He should explain all that he tried to do personally to control the violence and subsequently to resettle the victims. BJP representatives have often shared this information but not hearing it from Modi and his not encouraging a discussion around minority security does not serve him well.

“Snoopgate” and now the case of Jashodaben are both broadly similar in that both relate to Modi’s personal life. Is Modi a Brahamchari? Was he personally involved in snoopgate? Why did he abandon his wife? Does he still consider himself married to her? Is he keen to have her live in Racecourse Road in a grand, happy conciliation of earlier personal inconsistencies? This is rich material for Modi to reach out in a reality show, not just to the electorate, but also to the World and allow it to understand him better.

In all this, the only real winner is Jashodaben, who comes like the role model she is; dignified; proud without being an egotist; accomplished, competent and determined. The modern World would of course disagree and call her a loser for not dragging Modi to court for abandoning her and not seeking support or even for not divorcing Modi. All these actions would have been justifiable. But Jashodaben, by refusing to beg for favors and living life on her own terms; by being self-reliant and courageous, emblemizes the best in Indian womanhood.

Modi publicly worships his mother. He would do well to worship Jashodaben too, for she loves him as much and wishes him as well.   

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