Not very long ago, when Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi took to Google Talk to answer questions and interact with visibly smitten 'fans', he waxed eloquent about everything from the progress of women and his style statement. He, then, had shown no predilection for 'girlfriend' humour.
Also, the forty people he 'interacted' with asked everything - from dieting tips to the secret to the NaMo kurta - but stayed religiously away from his 'personal' life. Modi himself narrated at length, how he had led the life of a 'sanyaasi', wandered across Gujarat with just a few clothes and ate like a 'bhikshuk' (a beggar) and was thankful for whatever was offered to him at the houses he visited. However, he did not mention another casualty of his soul searching - his wife.
The Open magazine, in 2009, had attempted profiling Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi, then 57-years-old and a school teacher in Rajosana village in Gujarat who lived in a small room with no bathroom and even access to water. The villagers know her as 'Narendrabhai Modi's wife' and as reporter Haima Deshpande points out, they even demanded money to let a newcomer introduced to her.
Deshpande, eventually, failed to interview Jashodaben after a series of events that took place after she landed in Gujarat and paid a visit to the Rajosana Primary School, where Jashodaben works.
The reporter narrated how Jashodaben, when they first met in the day, was gleeful and excited to talk about her life. However, through the course of the day her mood changed and she went from being panic-struck to almost hysterical when asked to talk about herself.
The magazine quotes Jashodaben as she suddenly seemed unsure about talking to them:
She said,“I will not say anything against my husband. He is very powerful. This job is all I have to survive. I am afraid of the consequences.”
The story traces how cars after cars of people, who didn't seem to be related with the affairs of the school, arrived when word went out that Jashodaben was to be interviewed. Also, how the school principal 'made calls' following which Jashodaben seemed to have gotten scared. And how, a local journalist who works for the Gujarati mouthpiece for the government, came and asked the Open journalist to leave the village and not attempt talking to Jashodaben.
However, the villagers, according to the report seemed more forthcoming - possibly basking the glory of knowing someone related to the chief minister. The article quotes a villager as saying:
“Narendrabhai Modi is a national leader. He is intelligent and good looking. Jashodaben may not be able to match him. But she is his wife; he has married her. He must take her back to live with him,” says a village elder.
Apparently, Jashodaben who was married to Modi when she was 18 went back to educate herself to become 'fit' to be called his wife. She even completed a primary teachers' course and took up a teaching job.
A fan post on Modi says:
That ceremony, Gauna –second marriage, never happened as Narendra Modi got attracted towards RSS and decided to remain ‘bachelor’ for his life. Hence, Narendra Modi is a bachelor, but he is certainly not unmarried. Despite being married he religiously followed celibacy. His wife also decided to remain bachelor for the whole life. She is currently a school teacher and single.
You can't blame Shashi Tharoor if he doesn't get Modi. After all, a 'sanyaasi' with one of the sharpest political brains in the country, isn't easy to come by.
Read the full Open article here.