Newspaper article International New York Times

Indian Election Surprise: Politician Has Wife, Sort Of

Newspaper article International New York Times

Indian Election Surprise: Politician Has Wife, Sort Of

Article excerpt

Narendra Modi, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had said his being single would be an advantage as prime minister, but now admits in an election filing to having a wife.

After years of touting his bachelorhood, Narendra Modi, the favorite to become India's next prime minister, has quietly noted on an election registry that he is married.

It was Mr. Modi's first official acknowledgment of a marriage that he abandoned 45 years ago, just weeks after the wedding. Mr. Modi, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had previously left blank official questionnaires asking him to list his marital status. But in what is perhaps a lingering sign of ambivalence, Mr. Modi on Wednesday listed only his wife's first name, Jashodaben. She was born Jashodaben Chimanlal but now goes by Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi.

The acknowledgment caused a minor furor in India's parliamentary elections, in which voting began on Monday and is being held on nine days over six weeks, ending in May. Somabhai Damodardas Modi, Mr. Modi's eldest brother, released a statement on Thursday saying his brother's marriage "was a mere formality."

"Since working for the nation was the only dream that Narendrabhai had, he left all worldly pleasures and left home," his statement read.

Mr. Modi's rivals quickly seized on the admission. Digvijaya Singh, general secretary of the Indian National Congress party, asked whether a man who hid his marriage could be trusted.

"He is betraying the people of this country in every way," Mr. Singh said. "This person is mentally against women."

Political analysts debated whether the acknowledgment might affect voting by women, who rarely appear at campaign rallies but whose role in the elections is seen as critical.

In campaign speeches, Mr. Modi has touted his single status as a sign that he would be corruption-free as prime minister, since he has no close family to support. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.