New Delhi: Narendra Modi's admission in a poll affidavit that he is married to Jashodaben Chimanlal, a retired schoolteacher he separated from decades ago, led to wordy political exchanges today.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi attacked Mr Modi for never acknowledging his wife in the past, saying at a rally in Jammu and Kashmir, "We don't know how many elections he has fought, but for the first time he has written that he is married. In Delhi, they talk about respecting women... but his wife's name never found its way into the affidavit." (Watch video)
Hours later, thousands of kilometres away in Chhattisgarh, Mr Modi seemed to respond to Mr Gandhi's attack when he said, also at a rally, "They are not willing to give an account of their own work and yet they go around the country asking Modi to explain himself."
On Wednesday, Mr Modi, in his poll affidavit as the BJP's candidate from Vadodara in Gujarat, 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's older brother Somabhai Damodar Modi said his marriage was a formality and he gave it up to serve the country. (In poll affidavit, Narendra Modi says Jashodaben is his wife)
Jashodaben, 62, lives with her brother in a village in western Gujarat and is reportedly on a pilgrimage at present. (I know he will be PM, says Narendra Modi's reported wife in rare interview)
Congress leaders say the Election Commission should consider action against Mr Modi for filing what they call false affidavits in the past. (Full coverage; India Votes 2014)
The BJP's Nirmala Sitharaman said, "If false affidavits are really the issue, I will be compelled to ask about the false affidavits which Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi gave about their educational qualifications. Let them clarify those too."