UNJHA (TIP): Away from the world’s gaze, she was leading a quiet life as a retired schoolteacher. But when the spotlight turned to her, Jashodaben Modi, officially accepted by chief minister Narendra Modi, was nowhere to be seen. As the media rushed to track her down, after Modi’s nomination form for the Lok Sabha from Vadodara revealed her name late on April 9 night, Jashodaben did a vanishing act.
Perhaps anticipating the media glare, she was whisked away to an undisclosed location by family members — some said she had left on a ‘char dham’ pilgrimage with a congregation of 40 women. The 62-year-old wife of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate had confessed to her colleagues upon her retirement some years back that though she did not expect anything from her husband, she at least wanted him to acknowledge her once as his wife.
In fact, close relatives said she had given up eating rice for some months now as a penance to see Modi as PM. “Her prayers have been answered as Narendrabhai has publicly accepted her as his wife.We are very happy.We all pray for him to become PM,” said Kamlesh Modi, Jashoda’s elder brother who runs a grocery shop in Unjha. Kamlesh said that Jashoda never considered re-marrying after Modi left her 45 years back to become an RSS pracharak.
She gave up wearing footwear for four months seeking PM candidature for her husband and now is on a once-aday diet to see her wish fulfilled. Jashoda divides her time staying with brothers Kamlesh in Unjha and Ashok in Brahmanwada, her ancestral village 32km from Modi’s hometown Vadnagar where Jashoda and Modi were married in 1968 as teenagers. Brahmanwada — which lies to the north of Ahmedabad and isn’t far from Unjha — was throbbing with curiosity and pride on Thursday. Her brother Ashok said when the couple first met after marriage, Modi spoke to her about his plans to serve the country and suggested that she pursue her studies and become a teacher.
She did precisely that and never complained to anyone about her husband. Having retired, Jashoda became quite spiritual — she gets up at 4am and prays till 11am. “The village knew her as Narendra Modi’s wife but Jashoda never talked about it. She is a simple, nice and deeply religious person,” said Pravin Vyas, an ex-colleague. In the Modi family too, Jashoda is held in high regard as she accepted her life without any fuss. “Jashoda would read and watch every bit of news about Narenbhai. Despite being abandoned, Jashoda never spoke ill of him. That is a true Indian woman for you,” said Vasanti, the chief minister’s sister.