Jashodaben
Jashodaben
Jashodaben Narendrabhai Modi (née Chimanlal Modiborn January 1952) is a retired Indian teacher and the wife of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Their traditional marriage was arranged in Vadnagar by their families. The couple married in 1968. … She completed her education and had a career as a teacher.
Retired from teaching, Jashodaben lives a simple life of prayer. As the spouse of the prime minister, she is protected by a security detail, but has been unable to learn what their orders are or what rights she has in this position, despite filing suits with the government.
Estranged Spouse of the Prime Minister of India
Incumbent
Assumed office
26 May 2014
Preceded by Gursharan Kaur
Personal details
Born
Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi

January 1952 (age 68)
Brahmanwada, Bombay State, India (present-day Gujarat)

Spouse(s) Narendra Modi (m. 1968; estranged)
Father Chimanlal Modi
Occupation Teacher (retired)

 

Early life, marriage, and career

Jashodaben was born in 1952. Her mother died when she was two years old.

Narendra Modi and Jashodaben had an arranged marriage in the custom of the Ghanchi caste of Vadnagar. When Modi was thirteen, the couple underwent the religious ceremony of marriage. Per their family custom, they began living together (Gauna) when Modi was 16 in 1968 but that period was brief.

After three years of being out of contact with all who knew him, Modi returned home and contacted his family.He made plans to go to Ahmedabad to work at his uncle’s canteen without Jashodaben.Before he left, his mother arranged for Jashodaben’s parents to send her to meet Modi to sustain the gauna.After Jashodaben arrived at the house of Modi’s family, Modi had an argument with his parents and left their home to meet his uncle as planned.Over the three-year period around the marriage, Jashodaben estimates that she spent about three months with her husband.After Modi left, she continued with her professional life.

Jashodaben studied further to become a teacher at primary school, and from 1978–1990 taught in Banaskantha district. In 1991 she moved to Rajosana village and remains there. She is retired and her pension is ₹14,000 (US$200) per month. One commentator said that her low salary would have made much of life a hardship for her. In talking about her relationship with Modi, in one interview Jashodaben said “We have never been in touch… There has been no communication from his end to this day.” In a later interview Jashodaben said that until 1987 she and Modi spoke “normally”.Jashodaben lives with her brother Ashok and his wife in Unjha.

 

Marriage enters public view

In the 2014 Indian general election, Modi contested the Vadodara seat of the Parliament of India.Under the Representation of the People Act, Modi was asked to declare any previous marriage. In his response, for the first time in public and media, Modi acknowledged that he had a wife.Previously Modi had not responded to official documents asking about a spouse.

Somabhai Modi, Modi’s brother, issued a statement saying that the arranged child marriage had been forced on Modi by his family. He said that the marriage was never consummated and that Modi left it soon after it was solemnized.Inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, Modi later worked for society.

Before Modi officially acknowledged his marriage, a group of activists and security professionals visited Jashodaben at her home.They offered to escort her on the Char Dham pilgrimage, which was a trip which she had long wanted to take.During the trip they took her to the Rishikesh, Uttarakhand ashram of Swami Ramdev, a yoga guru, where she stayed around the middle of April. Journalists sought Jashodaben for comment at the news of the marriage, but her family told them that she would return home in May.

Modis wife 1

To contest the election, Modi’s political opponents criticized his evasions of facts about his marriage on official documents. Nishant Varma a Citizen of Ahmedabad sought criminal charges against Modi for having failed to acknowledge his legal wife and forge previous Election Documents as against prescribed rules of Representation of the People Act, the case is subjected to Revision in Supreme Court of India. The lower court refused to pronounce Modi guilty of Criminal offense under this Act.

In summer 2014, Congress party politician Ajay Rai filed a lawsuit to be heard by the Allahabad High Court complaining, among other things, that Modi did not give the permanent account number of Jashodaben.

Political actions and present life

In 1992, Jashodaben refused to be interviewed by the newspaper Abhiyan when that publication presented a story on the marriage of her and Modi. In 2009, a reporter for Open found Jashodaben in her village and asked her some questions. In 2014, a reporter for The Indian Express interviewed her. In May 2014, TV9 Gujarat video interviewed her. In December 2014, a writer for Pakistani news agency Dawn News said that not many newspapers have had the courage to report the troubles which Jashodaben has experienced.

Jashodaben said that she was not invited to the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi, but had she been invited, she would have gone.

In June 2014, at what has been described as “her first public event”, Jashodaben attended the public funeral of politician Gopinath Munde. In November 2014, she made her first trip to Mumbai where she prayed for her husband at the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Siddhivinayak Temple.

In February 2015, Jashodaben hosted some Christian missionaries who invited her to join their missionary to help lots of destitute and helpless Hindus by teaching Gita and Ramayana to them. In June 2015, Jashodaben was scheduled to speak at a conference on politics organized by supporters of Modi. Event organizers reported that the conference was shut down on day 2 of the week-long program on the direction of the BJP leader Amit Shah and others.No reason was given for cancelling the conference, but people in attendance claimed Jashodaben’s presence as the cause.

As a representative of Indian women

The separation of Jashodaben and Modi has been discussed in the context of a broader trend in India that politicians may have more success if they are known for not having ties to a spouse. The RSS, which gives Modi political support, values celibacy in its senior leadership but contrarian tones have been noted.