BJP’s PM candidate “concealed” his marital status in past affidavits

Accusing Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi of “concealing” his marital status in past affidavits and his wife’s income in the 2014 affidavit, the Gujarat Congress on Thursday called upon the poll panel to reject his nomination for the Lok Sabha election and disqualify his membership of the State Legislature.

For the first time on Wednesday, Mr. Modi declared ‘Jashodaben’ as his wife in the affidavit he submitted with his nomination papers for the Vadodara Parliamentary constituency.

“In all the previous affidavits he filed in 2002, 2007 and 2012 State Assembly elections, Mr. Modi did not disclose his marital status. He concealed it, thereby giving false information,” Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia, told a press conference.

In 2014, Mr. Modi was compelled to declare his marital status. However, in his affidavit he cited ignorance about his wife’s income and assets. In the column for spouse’s income and assets, Mr. Modi has said, “not known”.

In light of this, Mr. Modhwadia said the Election Commission should reject his 2014 nomination in the process of scrutiny and disqualify his membership of the State Legislature based on the affidavit of 2012. He also called for legal action against Mr. Modi.

Last September, the Supreme Court ruled that leaving relevant columns blank would result in rejection of nomination by the EC. At present, the EC has no power to reject nominations for blank columns and false information.

Although Mr. Modi left the marital status column blank in the past, “he was aware of it,” Mr. Modhwadia argued.

“He once referred to Shashi Tharoor’s late wife Sunanda Pushkar as ‘50-crore girlfriend’. Under the supervision of Gujarat’s former Home Minister Amit Shah, he snooped on a young woman, but he does not know about his wife income? In public, he created am image of a bachelor for himself. A film actress called him ‘most eligible bachelor’ and he did not contradict her,” Mr. Modhwadia alleged.

Gujarat Mahila Congress president Sonal Patel said Mr. Modi’s abandonment of his wife and his past comment about women’s malnutrition being the result of a slimming fad clearly showed his attitude to women.

On Thursday, Madhusudan Mistry, Congress candidate from Vadodara, gave a written objection demanding rejection of Mr. Modi’s nomination papers and filing of an FIR against him. However, Vinod Rao, returning officer (RO) and Vadodara Collector rejected his request.

Mr. Rao held that the RO is “not the competent authority” to go into factual correctness of the contents declared. He said a candidate is authorised to write “not known” if relevant information is not available.

“Nothing contained in the affidavit...gives any reason for initiating action under Section 125 A of Representation of People Act [suppression of facts],” the RO’s letter states.

Assets

In his current affidavit, Mr. Modi has declared total assets worth Rs. 1.5 crore. His movable assets, which include cash, bank deposits and jewellery, are worth Rs. 51,57,582. In immovable property, he owns a residential house in Gandhinagar price at Rs. 1 crore at current market value. He does not own a vehicle.

In his last affidavit, filed for the 2012 State Assembly elections, Mr. Modi had crossed the Rs. 1 crore mark, declaring assets worth Rs. 1.33 crore. In the last two years, he has added Rs. 20 lakh to his assets.