Vadodara: Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, has acknowledged for the first time that he is married to Jashodaben, a retired schoolteacher who he separated from decades ago.
In a poll affidavit that he filed on Wednesday as the BJP's candidate from Vadodara in Gujarat, Mr Modi, 63, wrote the name "Jashodaben" in the column for spouse - a field he had left blank in the four assembly elections he contested in the past.
Mr Modi had said at a rally in February, "I have no family ties, I am single. Who will I be corrupt for?"('I am single, who will I be corrupt for?' says Narendra Modi)
Jashodaben, 62, lives with her brother in a village in western Gujarat, and reportedly draws a monthly government teacher's pension of Rs 14,000. She recently told a newspaper that she hadn't seen her husband since he left three years into their marriage. (I know he will be PM, says Narendra Modi's reported wife in rare interview)
Mr Modi, who has ruled Gujarat since 2001, said in the affidavit that he has no information about his wife's assets and other details. The Gujarat Congress sought that his nomination be rejected for this, but the state Election Commission has refused to do so.
This morning, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted, "Modi accepts his Marital Status. Can Women of this Country trust a Man who stalks a woman, deprives his wife of her right? Vote against Modi (sic)." The comment refers to 'Stalkgate', or the alleged spying on a woman in 2009, allegedly on the orders of the Gujarat government. (India Votes 2014: full coverage)
Soon after, Mr Modi's older brother Somabhai Damodar Modi came to his defence, saying his marriage was a formality and he gave it up to serve the country. "What happened 45-50 years ago should be seen in the context of a poor and superstitious family," he said.
Mr Modi allegedly kept the wedding secret because it meant he would not be able to rise in the puritan Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological mentor and a group that frowns on key workers marrying, according to a recent Modi biography by author Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.