Married Bachelorhood

Barring his abandoned wife, Modi will fight for women’s empowerment and honour while quietly disowning his spouse...

After having long advertised his bachelor status, Narendra Modi has now admitted that he is in fact a rare species of sub rosa married bachelor.

He has time and again proclaimed that he stands solidly behind every one of Gujarat’s 60 million inhabitants and that his goal is full women’s empowerment, which is one of the focal points of his 2014 election manifesto and the reason for promising to bring forward a uniform civil code.

The manifesto was released the day the poll commenced but that is a small matter in relation to the inordinate delay in admitting his marital status while swearing otherwise in his election affidavits time and again until the truth was forced out of him on this occasion.
All Gujarati women have Modi’s full support, barring his abandoned wife, and he will fight for women’s empowerment and honour while quietly disowning his spouse.

These fervently repeated sworn statements of virtue echo his famous Gujarat-2002 double-speak. The affidavit filed before the Election Commission while standing for election is mandated to disclose the candidate’s personal background, family assets and income.

The column seeking his or her marital status has hitherto always been marked by Modi with a dash, signifying “not applicable” or “not married”. This time, however, the Supreme Court sought full disclosure of marital status in response to which Modi was compelled to admit to being married.

The excuse for previous non-disclosure is that his marriage was not a marriage as it was a “child marriage” and not consummated and Modi had left home “to serve the nation” while Joshodaben, his wife, remained “widowed” in her parental home and was later to teach, but never to see or hear from her husband again.

Yet, Modi was over 18 when he got married and his wife 17, both above the median age of marriage in India at the time. Why then was the marriage concealed, though an electoral offence, when there was no separation or divorce? A small matter, the Modi-rati will say, but a gross dishonour to women in general and his wife in particular.

If the man can be so shockingly callous and casual in discarding and disowning his lawfully wedded wife, what explains his alleged conversations with and extraordinary solicitude for a lady architect who he claims had sought his protection, as had her parents. The “protection” took the form of day and night surveillance and phone-tapping officially mounted for months through the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad and Crime Branch.

The phone taps were ostensibly caught on tape whose veracity has not been questioned. The surveillance extended to an air journey by the lady from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and sojourn there, and the men she met. Modi’s lips have been sealed on this episode of 24x7 illegal snooping going beyond the jurisdiction of the state police. What is the man who would be prime minister hiding and why is an official investigating the matter being hounded?


Jaitley’s defence

Arun Jaitley has sadly sought to defend the indefensible by citing some self-invented “convention” that political parties do not drag families and women into electoral polemics. The transgressor here, caught violating the electoral code, is Modi who has been compelled to disclose his marital status under law by the Supreme Court.

What code has been violated that has caused the BJP to retaliate, as Jaitley warned, by referring to Nehru’s alleged extra-marital affair with Edwina Mountbatten? This is the politics of the gutter. And what standard of chivalry has Modi set from the start by his constant innuendo, crossing all limits of decency, about Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origins being a national security risk? The BJP-Parivar in this regard is truly naked and unashamed.

While Modi has been playing his games, his Man Friday, Amit Shah, himself on bail, has been rabble rousing Hindu-Jat audiences in Muzaffarnagar, which voted last week. On the eve of the poll in that highly communally-polarised, fear-ridden constituency, Shah indulged in some virulent hate speech and incitement. He addressed Hindu audiences about insults to “us” and said “this is the time to avenge the insult meted to our community…. We must seek revenge”.

Later he tried to suggest that he only implied “vengeance through the ballot-box”. But, as in Gujarat-2002, why the polarised “we” and “they” and why the intimations of terrible vengeance against “them” that ended in mass murder?

The Election Commission saw through this ugly threat and has ordered the UP Government not to grant Amit Shah permission to stage public rallies, processions and road-shows.

The same injunction has been placed on Azam Khan, a leading Samajwadi rowdy who has made communally inflammatory speeches stating that the Kargil battle was won exclusively by Muslim troops with no contribution from Hindu or other officers and men. Not to be outdone, Mulayam Singh, who too would be PM, criticised the death penalty for rape, as boys will be boys and commit “little mistakes” as  result of feminine provocation or entrapment. Here is another political lout who, typically, back-racked, blaming the press for misinterpreting him.

In turn, Mamata Banerjee sought to defy the EC by rudely refusing to transfer five officials posted on election duty but found to be partisan in favour of the ruling Trinamool Congress. She huffed and puffed in her usual melodramatic manner and spoke of a conspiracy against her, but finally had to yield when threatened with cancellation of the poll.

The Election Commission deserves praise for standing firm against electoral malpractices on all sides and assisting the elderly and those with disabilities to cast their vote. One third of the poll is over. The turn-out has been uniformly high thus far though many people still find their names struck off the rolls.

The one negative has been the mindless and cowardly serial killings of poll parties and their security escorts by Maoists, even as they have offered “peace talks” on unacceptable conditions.

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