Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wife Jashodaben attended a condolence meeting for the late Gopinath Munde, her first public event, on Monday. The meeting, organised by the All India Banjara Seva Sangh (AIBSS) in Gandhinagar, was attended by OBCs and members of notified and denotified tribes.
The event was the brainchild of K G Vanzara, a retired IAS officer and elder brother of jailed former IPS officer and fake encounter case accused D G Vanzara who retired on May 31. The elder Vanzara is the general secretary of the AIBSS. He retired as additional secretary in the Gujarat government and practices law.
Former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Jayantilal Barot was also present at the meeting. Jashodaben attended the event along with her brother’s daughter-in-law Daksha Modi with whom she resides in Unjha, 25 km away from Modi’s hometown Vadnagar. Her younger brother Ashok Modi said no invitation was extended to Jashodaben and that the decision to attend the function was purely “instinctive”. He said, “It was a public event where anyone could attend and that is the reason my sister attended. She may have attended one of Munde’s programmes as a youngster which is why she decided to go for the meeting. She felt that he died at a young age.”
Reached for comments, K G Vanzara said, “We were also surprised to see her (Jashodaben) at the event. It was a public event which was open for all. Nobody was invited. People came on their own.”
Bela Modi, wife of Jashodaben’s nephew Sandip who resides in Ahmedabad, says, “These things may be new to people of Gujarat…however Jashodaben has always been keen on doing her social responsibility and it speaks of her sacrifice to quit public life and lead a normal life. And while this maybe the first time she has attended a public function, she may be open to attending more social functions, but she will not give any comments to the media.”
In a release, K G Vanzara said the Banjara Sangh had instituted an award in Munde’s memory for social justice and social integration. “Gopinath belonged to the most backward Banjara community and rose from local self government body to the highest political post of Union cabinet minister,” the release quoted him as saying.