His marriage was a social formality, says brother

In the wake of the controversy after BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi revealed in an affidavit he filed along with his nomination papers for contesting in the Vadodara constituency that he was married, his elder brother Somanbhai Modi said the Gujarat Chief Minister’s marriage was a mere “social formality” and should not be linked to his current position.

“Mr. Modi left his family at an early age. He was inspired by the spirit of nationalism and public service. His current position should not be judged on the basis of an incident that happened during his childhood, about 45-50 years ago,” the brother said in a statement issued by the BJP to the media.

After Mr. Modi left home, “his marriage to Jashodaben Chimanbhai Modi remained a social formality. Even after 45-50 years, Mr. Modi maintains a distance from his family. Ms. Jashodaben stayed at her father’s house and worked in the education sector. It is our request to see the incident in the context of our tradition-bound family’s poverty and immediate circumstances,” Mr. Somanbhai Modi said.

He cited the family’s backwardness as the reason for Mr. Modi’s early marriage. “Our family was very poor. Being socially, educationally and economically backward, we were bound by social conventions. Mr. Modi’s interests were different from those of the rest of us. Our family knew of his inclination towards the service of the nation, but we did not have any idea about the intensity of his desire. He was inspired by the sacrifice of Swami Vivekananda and Gautama Buddha. Since our parents were not too educated, they considered Mr. Modi to be like other children. They brought us up according to their capabilities. In this background, they married Mr. Modi at a young age. He nursed a single-minded desire for social service. He left his family and relinquished worldly indulgences,” he said in the statement.

Advani’s affidavits

After calling for action against Mr. Modi, the Congress in Gujarat pointed to some discrepancies in BJP leader L.K. Advani’s past three affidavits from the Gandhinagar constituency.

However, the Gandhinagar electoral office accepted Mr. Advani’s nomination after scrutiny.

“The scrutiny was over yesterday [Thursday] and there was no complaint before or during scrutiny,” P. Swaroop, Returning Officer, told The Hindu.

Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia said Mr. Advani’s 2004 affidavit erroneously mentioned the years of his degrees in reverse order. The affidavits stated that Mr. Advani obtained a Law degree in 1942, but passed Class 10 in 1947.

In the 2014 affidavit, Mr. Advani changed the nomenclature of the degree obtained to “matriculation, inter science and LLB” instead of “10th, 12th and Law Graduate” as in the previous affidavits.

Mr. Modhwadia said one had to be at least 23 years old to complete graduation in Law, whereas Mr. Advani was 19 years old. He called upon the Election Commission to take action in the matter.