She is also the ideal Hindu woman -pati-brata bharatiya nari – who wishes her husband the best – “I just wish that he progresses in whatever he does. I know
he will become PM one day” – even though he treated her the worst. This is the generation which is on its way out. The youthful girls of today will no longer stand by their man in such a manner. They will demand respect…and if they dont get it…simply walk away. Regardless of the dust storm of atrocities that are blinding us right now, the sun is setting on patriarchy in India.
The man she claims is still her “husband” is the BJP’s prime
ministerial candidate and is considered the frontrunner for the top job
this year. But Jashodaben, 62, a retired school teacher who was married
to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi when she was 17 — and separated
after about three years — is far removed from the rough and tumble of
She gets a monthly pension of Rs 14,000, lives mostly with a brother
and spends much of her time in prayer. In Ahmedabad to visit her
extended family, she agreed to be interviewed by The Indian Express but
refused to be photographed. Excerpts from her first interview since Modi
was named PM candidate:
For how long were you married and what is the status of the marriage?
We married when I was 17… I had quit studies once I went to his place
and remember him saying he wanted me to pursue my education. He would
mostly talk to me about completing my education. Initially he took
interest in talking to me and even in the affairs of the kitchen.
Do you feel burdened by the relationship, especially when the
media asks you about your strained relationship? Are you instructed to
remain low profile?
We have never been in touch and we parted on good terms as there were
never any fights between us. I will not make up things that are not
true. In three years, we may have been together for all of three months.
There has been no communication from his end to this day.
Do you track the news about Narendra Modi?
Yes, I read everything that I can get my hands on. I read all the
newspaper articles and also watch news on the television and like to
read about him.
If he becomes the next Prime Minister and moves to Delhi,
would you like to go back to him, if he calls you back? Will you try and
I have never gone to meet him and we have never been in touch. I
don’t think he will ever call me. In whatever I say, I do not want it to
harm him. I just wish that he progresses in whatever he does. I know
he will become PM one day!
Did he ever tell you he was leaving you or quitting the marriage?
He told me once that “I will be traveling across the country and
will go as and where I please; what will you do following me?” When I
came to Vadnagar to live with his family, he told me “why did you come
to your in-laws’ house when you are still so young, you must instead
focus on pursuing your studies”. The decision to leave was my own and
there was never any conflict between us. He never spoke to me about the RSS or about his political leanings.
When he told me he would be
moving around the country as he wished, I told him I would like to join
him. However, on many occasions when I went to my in-laws’ place, he
would not be present and he stopped coming there. He used to spend a lot
of time in RSS shakhas. So I too stopped going there after a point and I
went back to my father’s house.
Are you still legally Modi’s wife?
Every time people take his name, I am also mentioned somewhere, even
though in the background. Did you not come all the way and look all
over, to find me and come and speak to me? If I was not his wife, would
you have come to speak to me?
Do you feel slighted that your status as a wife has not been acknowledged by him in all these years?
No. I don’t feel bad, because I know that he is doing so due to
destiny and bad times. 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.
Why have you never remarried?
After this experience, I don’t think I want to. My heart is not into it.
How did you support yourself after you moved back to your parents’ house?
My in-laws treated me well, but would never speak about the marriage.
My father paid the fees for my studies and I also got some financial
assistance from my brothers to continue my education.
I had lost my
mother when I was two years old and I lost my father two years after I
started studying again and was in class 10. However, once I started my
studies, I started to enjoy learning and did my SSC in 1974, and went on
to complete my teachers training in 1976 and became a teacher in 1978.
How do you spend your retired days?
I enjoyed teaching and taught classes from the first to fifth grade
and taught all subjects. Nowadays, I mostly start my day by 4 am and
begin with prayers to Ambe Ma (Goddess Durga). I spend all my time in
Bhakti (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.