There might be several places in Gujarat that are divided on their opinions of Narendra Modi, but the Gujarat CM‘s hometown is not one of them. CNN-IBN travelled across north Gujarat to the birthplace of Narendra Modi in Vadnagar to measure the mood of the town at a time when elections are just round the corner.
Vadnagar is seeped in history. It is about 100 kms from Ahmedabad in north gujarat and boasts of a 2500 year old civilisation.
But for now, Vadnagar has earned the distinction of being Modi’s hometown.
Vadnagar has almost nothing to complain about. It has well-paved roads, the industries there are booming. To add to this, the government has beautified and cleaned the waterbodies there, leaving no room for dissent.
Modi’s ancestral house there has been sold but the new owners are very aware of the fact that this house is of symbolic value to the politics of Gujarat. This was where Modi, who belonged to the low gachi caste lived.
He was the third of seven children and helped his father run a tea stall while his mother Hiraben worked in the oil mill.
His brother, Prahlad Modi, said, “He started his life making tea, facing hardships. He got hardened that that time. This is the reason for his strong resolve now.”
His teacher from BN High School in his hometown remembered a young boy who was good in debates and one who was very articulate in the class. He said,”I wasn’t sure what he would grow up to be, but he had a distinct personality.”
However, there is tinge of regret in the voice of the family who know that Narendra Modi has almost no ties with them – because he took a vow to not talk to his family during his RSS training.
His brother said, “He has given everything to the RSS. As a family he has never been there with us.”
It is true that Modi keeps his personal life out of his politics – a reason why people cannot question his personal integrity. Very little is known about his personal life. His mother Hiraben lives in an apartment in Gandhinagar. One of his brothers works in the Gujarat secretariat and the other works in the Fair Price Association.
Do the ghosts of the 2002 riots have any resonance in the town of Vadnagar? If Prahlad Modi is to be believed then it is clear that this town has nothing to do with Modi’s communal image. He said, “If he is guilty then one should be punished. But why is there this drive to prove him guilty?”