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Narendra Modi could be India’s next prime minister. So why won’t he talk to his wife?

GlobalPost exclusive: Wildly popular with both foreign executives and Hindu conservatives, BJP candidate Narendra Modi hasn’t spoken to his wife in more than 45 years. Yet she remains devoted to him.

Narendra modi wife abandonedEnlarge
Controversial Hindu nationalist candidate Narendra Modi stands a good chance of becoming India's next prime minister, after the May 2014 elections. He hasn't spoken to his wife in 45 years. (Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE: On April 10, 2014, Indian prime minister hopeful Modi admitted for the first time that he is indeed married.

AHMEDABAD, India — For any world-class politician, an articulate, telegenic or otherwise appealing spouse is an obvious asset. Think Carla Bruni, Peng Liyuan or even Hillary Clinton. 

But the man who many believe will become India’s prime minister after the May 2014 elections has an unusual relationship with his wife.

They are still married, but decades of silence separate them. They have not spoken in 45 years, her family told GlobalPost.

That’s not to say Jashodaben Modi would describe herself as estranged from her husband, Narendra Modi.

On the contrary, she is highly devoted to the energetic, charismatic politician from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Mrs. Modi rises at 5 a.m. daily and heads to her village temple to pray that her husband and his party win next year’s parliamentary vote.

The 63-year-old retired schoolteacher even attends her husband’s rallies — incognito, in case his political allies or opponents recognize her.

“She goes to his speeches to see him, but she never tells anyone. She doesn’t tell anyone who she is,” her niece, Nirali Modi, a 25-year-old teacher, told GlobalPost. “He doesn’t know. They have not spoken since he left.”

Mrs. Modi’s relatives say her husband left the family at 18 years of age, to further his political career in a Hindu nationalist organization that forbids its key workers to marry.

Modi would have lost his position had he revealed the marriage. He may never have risen to chief minister of Gujarat — a business hub with a population similar in size to France’s. And he may never have become the man the BJP hopes will beat Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi to end a decade of opposition.

A controversial candidate

Even without his rarely talked about secret wife, Mr. Modi is a deeply controversial politician.

Although his followers virtually worship him — one said he adored Modi "like God" — many opponents despise him for his role in anti-Muslim riots in 2002 when more than 1,000 people died.

Modi is the embodiment of upward mobility in a country that remains wedded to its rigid caste system. As a boy, he sold tea on the platform of the railway station in his home town. Since 2001 as Gujarat’s most powerful leader, supporters credit him with boosting the western state’s impressive economic fortunes.

Foreign investors and India’s major conglomerates flock to Gujarat to do business. Tata manufactures cars near the main city of Ahmedabad. A new Ford factory is due to go into production next year.

But unlike many other emerging market politicians who achieve popularity with executives, Modi boasts that his accomplishments have also benefitted average residents. Gujarat has an enviable network of pothole-free roads, and power cuts are a rarity — a huge contrast to the rest of India where some villages go without electricity for days.

Critics say Modi is merely reaping the benefits of previous administrations that planned infrastructure projects long before his rise to power.

Yet although he has firmly established the Modi success story in the minds of Indians, he cannot shake off the horrific events of February and March 2002, which led to the nickname the Butcher of Gujarat.

A train at Godhra station carrying Hindu pilgrims and activists was set on fire, killing 58 people including 15 children.

Muslims were blamed for the attack, and Gujarat erupted in violence. More than 1,000 people died, most of them Muslims killed in revenge by Hindu extremists, who roamed the streets with swords and kerosene cans, chanting Modi’s name, according to Human Rights Watch.

Opponents say Modi failed to act to prevent the massacres. Some former police chiefs have claimed that he told officers to stand by and let the violence run its course — allegations denied by Modi supporters. The United States government canceled his visa in 2005 and has not granted one since.

Modi refuses to answer questions about the riots, even walking out of a TV interview in October 2007 after being asked why he would not say that he regretted the killings.

In July 2013 he caused outrage by comparing the victims’ fate to his sadness at

Uthej More than 1 year ago
I have never seen any paid media do so in depth research into the personal life of elite GANDHI family. Stop spreading your false propaganda against MODI. Is 2002 the only yardstick for you people to judge Modi? Get a life you bloody people. JAI HIND JAI MODI
brazeesh More than 1 year ago
How much money have you got from the Congress Party to write some garbage like that ?? You should clearly mention that also. Cheap, Sorry Gutter Journalism .....
prashanth. More than 1 year ago
Bosudike...just do job correct and dont act like congress agent.
ktiwari31 More than 1 year ago
what a pathetic article. Get a life You will all be proved completely wrong when he comes to power and there is absolutely no stopping him now. India is ready for a revolution under him.
Sven Brezensky More than 1 year ago
Does GobalPost Supports Child Marriages or propagates marriage below legal age...journalism with such ludicrous argument of someone to recognize wife when fully knowing that the so called marriage was done without consent, without legal age and therefore is null as per the constitution of India, shows the dearth of ideas to write. The low quality of this trolling in main stream media is sign of why people dont trust it anymore...
murali nair More than 1 year ago
As per biography of Modi by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, which is an unbiased biography, Modi never consummated the marriage. In fact, the marriage involved three ceremonies, first at the age of 13, the second a few years later and the last at 18, when they were also required to cohabit. But, Modi never went through the last ceremony. Therefore, the allegation that Modi was married and left the family, etc., is a lie. The author has obviously not done his homework or chose not to.
vivekrao_2000 More than 1 year ago
This is another trash garbage from CON sponsored global mafia. Sad and pathetic.
Prahaar2 More than 1 year ago
Sir, your article is full of factual inaccuracies. It is not mandatory to remain unmarried for joining and working with RSS. Your article is factually inaccurate on another account - regarding "Butcher of Gujarat". A Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team did not find any criminal or negligent behaviour on part of Mr. Modi.
Saurabh Kumar More than 1 year ago
Rightly said. But then what he was doing for those 72 hours. Gujrat was ruled by a lady as Court have accounted her for all incidents. What was Mr. Modi doing at that time, Was he on drugs, or being paid by ISI to be silent so that they have 100's of persons whose Mother/Sister raped and killed. Person left alone in the world and what more he do, Just follow the path ISI shows. Became a terrorist. Not sure How much Modi was paid for that by ISI.
Sandeep More than 1 year ago
Article is full of inaccuracies. Please do not spread lies. Atleast that is not what true journalists do
Jagath J P More than 1 year ago
Dear paid global sh*# post, How dare you people to criticize our most respected Modiji,and you conveniently forget that Modiji is found innocent by the supreme court of India on gujarat riots 2002 in which merely 650 muslims and 350 hindus were killed in a state which is only having 12% population of muslims. GROW UP...DO NOT TAKE MONEY FROM CONGRESS
vamumurali More than 1 year ago
The article is fully biased and Not in good taste. Anyhow, You can not stop Modi to reach the indian top post with your ill treated Journalism.
John More than 1 year ago
My vote's for Modi !! Congress stooges can dream about dumb Rahul becoming PM!!
Nmodi14 11 months ago
Why should he has to talk about his wife?? Why you all ppl don't believe in talking about developments and problem solution of out country like Modi. Completely disagree with this type of mentality. Btw this article writer did good research on the topic. But maybe he missed some of points that i saw on somewhere else. If you want to know full detail about Narendra Modi wife than go here :
Ravi Ningapur More than 1 year ago
R u congress agent
apatriot More than 1 year ago
“BhashaAnek, Bhav Ek. Rajya Anek, Rashtra Ek. PanthAnek, Lakshya Ek. BoliAnek, Svar Ek. Rang Anek, Tiranga Ek. Samaj Anek, Bharat Ek. RivajAnek, Sanskar Ek. KaryaAnek, Sankalp Ek. Rah Anek, Manzil Ek.ChehreAnek, Muskaan Ek.” :- Honorable Narendra Bhai Modi ji on 31.10.2013. Think who is the other politician in India who have such a tremendous thought process. just read him, listen him those barking on him will realize what substance he has in himself. No matterwhat you write he is visionary and savior of India
Real Kalki 9 months ago
i am kalki me on facebook..............time is very near when i will takeover the throne of delhi...............
banti0629 More than 1 year ago
An Indian with Vision, Proven Track Record for Development in his state that has never been seen before (with never ending domestic and international appreciations and awards; directly competing with China in industry/goods manufacturing & supply), liked by his Party and outside, becoming Global choice of billions across the country and everywhere of all ages, especially youth by his personified speeches, Work ethic and Fearless Personality (must to have in a Leader), Respect for Great Leaders, Raises real public issues and its feasibility/timelines to address, Connecting with everyone at the right time, Managing Critics well, got all clearances from Top judiciary in the country, getting to the root level problems (infrastructure, security, jobs, etc), putting all efforts in helping keep everyone in Harmony and Righteous frame of mind, adopting 'Simple Living and High Thinking' mantra. See where Congress has taken the country in last 60 years (culprit of Poverty, Partition, Corruption) v/s vibrant GUJARAT (and future INDIA) under Modi (development, jobs, security). With all that Front facing heading in news, conferences, debates, articles, and all over, and last but not the least someone Not Born with overnight liking and confusing choice (like AAP) but rather with steady approach and clear ideas/talks -- One and only one Choice to go for Healthy India - NaMo !! Visit:
Faisal Anjum More than 1 year ago
life is life . weather it is hindu or any other religion . humanity should be first religion ... osama is also killer and modi is also killer
Faisal Anjum More than 1 year ago
be humen guys . modi is a pig . dont think about religios and all wrong is wrong . and right is right . he is not humen being . you know about religions . but a small childs they dont no what is religion . he killed childrens . womens
Satty Upadhyay More than 1 year ago
In Godhra case the muslim fundamentalists burnt 58 Hindu People including 15 chidlren don't u know about that.or u r talking only in favour of minority communities.
idumban06 More than 1 year ago
indian new actor of modi
NikhilMoreV More than 1 year ago
Adding up to the above insight, Modi's followers have typical common traits. 1 Abusive 2 Extremist views 3 They DONOT accept facts, rather think everything being said against Modi is paid, but Modi's Highly Expensive political campaigning doesn't involve any black money. As if Modi belongs to some billionaire's family. 4 Very sensative about 2002 5. Lack in facts & numbers. High on fictional dreams & hopes. 5 they will not logically answer, or rationally accept the above facts.
ktiwari31 More than 1 year ago
I pity you, you guys are the ones who still think that halfwit Rahul Vinci is good to lead you, there is no comparison between Modi and him, Rahul will never reach there and thank nature it's gonna put things on track and gonna make this Congress dynastic honeymoon over.
Prahaar2 More than 1 year ago
The article is factually incorrect on many crucial points. All you can do is abuse Modi on actions of some over enthusiastic Internet users. Please re-check the facts about Modi not meeting his wife to become RSS pracharak - utter bilge. Reference to Butcher of Gujarat - unsubstantiated allegation, which has been disproved in the court. All you have is abuse without rational logic.
Justdial More than 1 year ago