VIDEO: Narendra Modi’s wife Jashodaben casts her vote in Mehsana http://t.co/yDWOnjKrAY
— Times of India (@timesofindia) April 30, 2014
Of Mehsana, Elections, BJP and ‘Modi-Dengism’
Mehsana is perhaps the biggest city that stands between Ahmedabad and the nearest place of Rajasthan. There are some unique facts about Mehsana. Dudhsagar Dairy, run by the Milk Cooperative of Mehsana is considered the largest Dairy in Asia. Also, unlike other cities of Gujarat- Surat, Vadodara or Jamnagar, Mehsana is a unique mixture of industries and agricultural set up, juxtaposed.
Disturbingly enough, however, Mehsana, a city dominated by the Patels, also has the controversial distinction of having the lowest child sex ratio among urban centers in India. According to the Census Report 2011, Mehsana is at the lowest rung on the gender index, with just 760 girls per 1,000 boys in the 0-6 year age group, leaving behind, the cities Sonipat and Bahadurgarh of Haryana that have child sex ratio of 784/1000.
Of course, Haryana has three cities with less than 800 child sex ratio, the third one is Rohtak (793 girls per 1000 boys). Mehsana Lok Sabha constituency, which is going to the polls on 30 April, also includes Vadnagar, the town Narendra Modi hails from and Unjha, a place, the now famous ‘wife’ of Narendra Modi, Jashodaben hails from. People at Vadnagar say, after he left home at the age of 17 or 18, to be an RSS Pracharak, Narendra Modi hardly returned to the town. Once, while his father died, he came for a day and went back. When the daughter of his younger brother got married, Modi sent blessings but had not come. TheVadnagar town in Mehsanahas seen many developments in the recent years, thanks to its most famous son. In another write up, I’ll write in details about Vadnagar.
Mehsana, Modi and His Family
Narendra Modi’s mother stays in Gandhinagar, at Sector 22, but not at Modi’s government residence. At least once in a year, Modi compulsorily visits to get her blessings, on his birthday. Many of Narendra Modi’s close relatives at Vadnagar are just ordinary people. Someone has a small shop, someone sells knick knacks on a cart… Modi never bestowed any favour to them, neither have they asked for!
Jashodaben is a retired primary school teacher. Now she stays with her Brother’s family at Unjha. The family is trying to avoid the sudden limelight on them, desperately. Even, the Congress people and several NGOs tried to pursue Jashodaben to say something against Modi… but failed. Jasiben has no complaints, neither the family. When Modi left home, he was past 17 and Jasodaben at 15.
Modi was dead against the marriage, only agreed under pressure from his father and the family, agreed his elder brother Sombhai Modi.
Modi left home to be a Pracharak, and returned after three years, that’s only once. A certain News Magazine, whose Editor is seen desperately these days, siding with the accused in the infamous rape case, Tarun Tejpal, has written somewhere that Jashodaben was driven out of the family, because she was not that educated. Jashoda’s family denies this. She had already studied up to Class VIII, when got engaged. Possibly, enough education for a girl from a semi-rural setting, getting married to a family of humble financial background.
In an interview to a Gujarati weekly, Jashodaben was quoted that their stay together was very brief. Jashoda’s brother can remember, Narendra advised Jashoda to study further and to be a teacher. Which she followed. “I had quit studies once I went to his place and remember him saying he wanted me to pursue my education. He would mostly talk to me about completing my education.” Jashodaben told to a reporter once, in a rare interview.
Narendra Modi`s wife Jashodaben not on `char dham` pilgrimage; votes in Mehsana http://t.co/yM9EC5e7dT
— Eva Sánchez (@EvaSanchez777) April 30, 2014
When Narendra left, Jashoda was not at home. When she came back from her father’s house, Narendra’s parents told her to stay with them. She stayed there for some months and then went back. She ultimately cleared the SSC in 1972 and enrolled for a primary teachers’ course. All these years, she kept a low profile as a teacher, at Rajosana Primary School near Brahmanwada, in Unjha. Never bitter, nor boasted about Modi, ever in life. Before retiring in 2010, she was teaching Maths and Gujarati language. A popular teacher, she was very religious, but many of her students there were Muslims. In fact, many of Narendra Modi’s childhood friends at Vadnagar were Muslims.
Jesud Khan Pathan, a retired bank official, who had studied at the B.N. High School with Modi and one of his close friends had said that Modi’s marriage with Jasodaben is true. But it’s a fact that they had hardly lived together. It was known to the local people, but for 40 years or more, it was not an issue. Obviously, Narendra Modi revealed his marital status this time, in the affidavit because, this time, there was the Supreme Court directive against leaving any column blank.
It’s obvious also, Jashodaben’s family is reluctant to answer any query about Narendra Modi and his marital status, to prodding journalists, descended at their doorstep, in the recent times. Jashodaben’s sister-in-law, Krishna seems peeved at repeated queries: If my sister-in-law has no problem with him (Narendra Modi), then why you people are so bothered!
A Patel Stronghold
Mehsana Lok Sabha constituency in north Gujarat is almost synonymous with the Patels. A powerful land holding community. Since the British colonial period, the Patels, specially the Patidar community have benefited from the local landholding system. Once they grow substantially, they have ventured into various other businesses. Today, the Patels have ventured out of agriculture and landowning to a variety of business and trades. In the USA, they are very successful in the hotel and retail business.
In Gujarat, Patels dominate in the construction and real estate business, diamond industry, plastic industry, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and the export business. Obviously, they are politically powerful too. The three contestants from three different parties in Mehsana are also from this community only.
Jayshreeben Patel of the BJP, Jivabhai Patel of Congress and Vandana Patel from the Aam Aadmi Party. Caste is no doubt a decisive factor in this part of the country.
Like the Patels of Mehsana, in Banaskantha, the Chaudharis are powerful, and in Patan and Sabarkantha the Kshatriyas rule the political scene. There are 14.85 lakhs voters in the Mehsana Parliamentary constituency, with around 5 lakh Patel voters. To be frank, Mehsanain north Gujarat is the epicentre of ‘Patel- Politics’ propelling every other candidate almost out of the purview. Like their caste affiliation, the religious affiliation here is also a key factor. Patels owe their adherence to an organisation known as the ‘Umiya Mata Mandir Sansthan’.It’s a highly influential institution, a powerful temple trust which has its say on the local voters in the constituency.
Any directive from this organisation, delivered to the voters in general could easily bind the opinions and definitely decide the poll fortune of the candidate. And it’s a fact that the trust plays the role of an influential mediator in this constituency and definitely influences a large section of the voters cutting across the economic strata’s and status in the society. So, it’s not a surprise that, from BJP’s Jayshreeben Patel, to Jivabhai Patel of Congress and even Vandana Patel of AAP – have no hesitation in admitting their closeness to the temple trust! The local problems like water scarcity and lack of further infrastructure development never take the prominence here, beyond the caste factor. Vandana Patel, who was earlier with the BJP, now representing AAP, though trying to put forward the message of corruption free India among others. Her supporters admit that had it not been for the support of some key members of the Sansthan, it would not be possible for her to campaign within the Patel community in Mehsana.
Internal Tussle and the Modi Wave
Jayashreeben Patel won the seat in the 2009 elections. But this time, her selection as a candidate of the Mehsana Lok Sabha constituency has not gone well with the local party men. This year, like Mehsana, BJP has also faced big protests and grudges over the candidate selection at Kheda and Dahod.
In fact the AAP candidate in Mehsana Vandana Patel, left BJP for not getting the party ticket and joined the new outfit. Reportedly, the Umiya Mata Mandir Sansthan, the supreme religious body of Kadva Patel community has written letters to BJP leaders, both in Gujarat and in Delhi against her selection.
Vikram Patel, an influential representative of the organisation and a key leader of the community came out with his voice that within the community’s own politicians, people like Anil Patel or NL Patel could easily be selected as the Mehsana candidate. But the local leaders were unable to stop Jayshreeben. They say that behind Jatyashreeben there is this powerful lady, Anandiben Patel, the State Revenue and Urban Development Minister and Narendra Modi’s close associate. Anandiben these days is considered as Modi’s possible successor!
Jayshreeben, they believe, is a weak candidate in Mehsana. Last time she won against the Congress Candidate, but by a narrow margin. BJP has earlier assigned Nitin Patel, the powerful Minister in Gujarat Cabinet, to take care of the Mehsana constituency and tackle the infighting. Mehsana is traditionally a BJP bastion. Dr. A. K. Patel, a former Union Cabinet Minister, was elected from this seat, 5 times-in 1984, 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1998. In 1999, the seat went to Congress candidate Maganbhai Patel. Dr. A.K. Patel was defeated. In 2002 By Poll again, it went to the BJP. In the 2004 General Elections however, the seat went to Congress’s Jivabhai Patel.
Jayashreeben had earlier handled mostly the women’s wings of BJP in Gujarat. And Mehsana Patels are basically a male dominated society. Though a new incumbent in 2009, Jayshreeben surprisingly emerged as the giant killer by defeating the veteran Congress leader Jivabhai Patel. But the margin was small, just 20,000 votes! BJP poll managers in Mehsana are very much concerned that Jivabhai Patel undoubtedly poses a big challenge for the BJP candidate and virtually they are leaving nothing to chance.
“We are not taking Jivabhai is taken lightly,” said the former State Industries Minister Khodabhai Patel, who has been given the observer status in the constituency. Political observers and the local party men are saying that vis- a -vis Jayshreeben, Jivabhai is a much experienced and seasoned politician. Also, he has better interaction and command over the communities here in Mehsana, But Modi wave is too visible in Gujarat. Also the possibility of a Gujarati becoming the Prime Minister has much emotional value this time among the communities in Gujarat. Patels, despite their differences, are strongly behind BJP this time.
By Deep Basu
Image Courtesy: Modi Bharosa.Com
Video Courtesy: SoSorry
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