Narendra Modi is very much in the public eye after winning the election in India for prime minister.
As such, people are wondering about his personal details, including about his wife.
Jashodaben is a very secretive woman, with her marriage to Narendra not officially known until he finally admitted under oath in early April that he and she are married.
It was an arranged marriage decades ago. He was 18, and she was 17. He’s now 63.
Family members claim that the marriage was never consummated but advised Modi to come clean for legal reasons. Modi previously left the column on marital status blank in nomination papers in the last four state assembly elections, reported the Times of India. He also says that he has no information about Jashodaben’s income, IT returns, and PAN details
Jashodaben is a retired school teacher in Brahmanwada, a small village of around 2,500 villagers, about 35 kilometers from Modi’s hometown of Vadnagar. She taught grades first through fifth, and all subjects. Nowadays she begins her day around 4 a.m. with prayer and spends a lot of time in prayer.
“I mostly live with my elder brother Ashok Modi who lives in Unjha but I keep visiting the home of my other brother who lives in Brahman Vada near Unjha whenever I feel like. I feel I have got good brothers who have supported me,” she said.
Jashodaben Modi, wife of Gujarat Chief Minister and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) Prime ministeral Candidate Narendra Modi, arrives to cast her vote in a polling centre at Unjha town, some 100 kms from Ahmedabad on April 30, 2014. Before going to the polling booth, Jashodaben paid a visit to a temple and prayed for Modi’s success. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
She says that the pair are on good terms and there were never any fights between them, but that they haven’t been in touch. She told Indian Express that they were together for three years but in reality they were only together for about three months during that time.
However, she said that she enjoys reading everything about him that she can find. “I read all the newspaper articles and also watch news on the television and like to read about him,” she said.
It seems that she and he parted ways when he declared that he was going to start traveling across the country and left her behind.
The fact that Modi has a wife is surprising because he has said in multiple interviews in the past that his lack of family makes him an ideal politician.
“I am single, who will I be corrupt for?” he told a campaign rally in February. He previously told his own biographer that he enjoyed “loneliness.”
Jashodaben says that she understands. “I don’t feel bad, because I know that he is doing so due to destiny and bad times,” she told the Express. “In such situations he has to say such things and also has to lie. I don’t see my situation as being bad because I feel, in a way, my luck has improved too.”
Then again, she told Open Magazine years ago that she couldn’t talk about her husband because she was “afraid of the consequences.”
“He is very powerful. This job is all I have to survive,” she said.
BJP leader Narendra Modi gestures to supporters as he sits with his mother Heeraben Modi, not seen, on her front porch after seeking her blessing on May 16, 2014 in Ahmedabad, India. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
After first appearing happy to talk the reporter says that the principal made a phone call, informing someone that Jashodaben had visitors, and he went to meet her in her classroom.
“After that, she became a different person. She smiled no more, her excitement was gone and she looked nervous. She kept wringing her hands. When I approached her again, she screamed, asking to be left alone. But as she walked away, she gestured to suggest that she would talk later.
“Later, some men visited the school, one after the other, in different vehicles. They parked their vehicles within the school premises, and looked directly into the principal’s office. After a while, they left. When the school day came to an end, Jashodaben almost ran out to a waiting autorickshaw. She pointed at me and told some villagers that I was harassing her.
“Hiding her face in her hands, she went to her brother’s house in her maternal village in Brahamanwada, about 20 km away. A few minutes later, a young man who identified himself as Prakashbhai, a reporter from Ram Setu (a two-page government-run newspaper printed with inconsistent frequency), approached me and asked me to leave the village. By then a sizeable crowd had gathered around us.”
Before she retired, Jashodaben made Rs 10,000 a month and lived in a one-room tenement, paying a rent of Rs 150 a month.
Though Jashodaben longs for a call from her husband to come live with him, villagers say that she consulted numerous astrologers and that they say one day she will definitely live with him.
That was confirmed by her elder brother Askhok Modi.
“Jashodaben never stayed with Narendrakumar (Modi) after marriage and has led a life alone dedicated to spiritualism. But by heart she still considers Narendrakumar (Modi) as her husband. She had taken a pledge of not eating rice or any preparation made out of it till he (Modi) becomes a prime minister,” Ashok Modi told the Business Standard.
Chief Minister of western Gujarat state and main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi (C) gives the traditional Indian greeting to the awaiting media as he leaves the home of his mother Hira Ba in Gandhinagar, about 23 kms from Ahmedabad on May 16, 2014. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)
“When asked if Jashodaben would go to Modi, Ashok said, “She still considers committed to Narendrakumar (Modi) and is ready to go with him only if he calls her back.”
Either way, Jashodaben may be sharing the same security cover, according to the Times of India.
“Being Modi’s wife, Jashodaben shall become entitled to Special Protection Group (SPG) security, mandated for the PM and his immediate family. The SPG detail for Jashodaben, who by virtue of being Modi’s wife would face a security threat, can be deployed at her residence in Brahmanwada village in Mehsana district of Gujarat, said a senior security expert,” it reported.
“Leading a reclusive life with religious books and char dham yatras, Jashodaben could be catapulted to unwanted limelight and VIP status that Modi’s anointment would bring with it.”
It’s unclear if Jashodaben would be able to decline the protection.