The Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s marital status is the prime focus for Congress leaders campaigning in Gujarat’s predominantly rural constituency of Amreli, that also holds the dubious record for the lowest female voter turn-out in 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress leaders including ex-MP and party aspirant for the upcoming elections, Virji Thummar described Modi as a cheat who hid the identity of his wife during the four times he filed his affidavit while contesting elections in Gujarat.
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“BJP has been in power in Gujarat for the last 10-15 years. During this period, the party’s PM aspirant had filed affidavit four times while fighting elections in the state. Though we repeatedly questioned him, he had maintained silence about his marriage. In the affidavit filed for the Lok Sabha elections, Modi says Jashodaben is his wife. So he possibly lied to the people,” said Thummar raking up the martial status of Modi while campaigning in Devgam village about 30 kilometers from Amreli on Sunday.
“In the 2012 elections, Modi in his affidavit had left the space blank. So if he married Jasodaben in the last 14 months, the people of the state wishes to know the date on which he got married,” Thummar said mocking the saffron party’s candidate while addressing a group of about 75-odd villagers in the village.
“How can you hand over the reins of the country to a person who cannot be truthful about the details of his own wife,” said the Congress leader who was elected as the Congress MP from Amreli in 2004. In 2009, Congress gave the party ticket to his wife Nilaben Thummar after a forgery complaint was lodged against him. She, however lost of BJP candidate Naranbhai Khachhadiya.
Later Thummar, accompanied by local Congress MLA Paresh Dhanani walked down the village lanes shaking hands and meeting people. He also had a cup of tea from a house in the village and attended a local event organised by the Bharwad community.
Establishing himself as a “family man”, the leader also took time out from his busy campaign schedule and visited his family in nearby Vavdi village.
The Congress candidate addressed group meetings of farmers in several villages including Lunidhar and Nani Kukavav. Everywhere his focus was largely on Modi’s martial status. “If a common man had given wrong information in an affidavit, a criminal offense would have been registered by now,” said Thummar while addressing villagers in Nani Kukavav village.
Stressing on the importance of the document filed with the Election Commission, he told the gathering of village leaders and youngsters, “An affidavit is an oath that we take. It is like we have sworn in the name of Ram. Don’t you think, Modi has lied in the name of Ram when he did not disclose the details of his wife.”
“At least, Jashodaben is happy that Modi has at least acknowledged her to be be his wife. She is now content and has gone on a pilgrimage,” he claimed.
Describing the BJP as a party serving the corporates like Reliance, Essar and Tatas, Thummar pointed out that land meant for agriculture research that would have benefited the farmers in Gujarat was given away at low interest rates to set up Tata Nano plant. “BJP is only selling dreams. Please go to Sanand and see for yourself, the Tata Nano plant has almost closed down,” he claimed.
Thummar also took on his BJP rival Naran Khachhadiya, describing him as corrupt. In his meetings he also talked about the state government’s poor response to crop insurance, lack of rail connectivity, poor bus service and lack of doctors in Amreli’s civil hospital.
“We are sure to win Amreli this time. BJP has done very little work in this region,” Thummar later told The Indian Express while simultaneously admitting that the Congress was weak in the coastal regions of Mahuva and Rajula that have a sizable Koli community supporting the BJP.