India

India PM Modi's wife Jashodaben airs safety concerns

Jashodaben Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jashodaben was married to Narendra Modi when he was 17 but the couple have lived apart for many years

The estranged wife of Indian PM Narendra Modi has raised concerns about her safety and asked for information about arrangements for her security.

Jashodaben, a retired school teacher, filed a Right to Information (RTI) application to the state government in Gujarat where she lives.

Mr Modi admitted publicly for the first time he was married when he filed his election nomination papers in April.

They married when they were 17, but the couple have lived apart for years.

He has always avoided questions on his personal life amid suggestions he wished to appear celibate to appeal to his core Hindu nationalist voter base.

Soon after Mr Modi's spectacular win in the May general elections, Jashodaben was provided round-the-clock security.

"I am the wife of the honourable prime minister of India," she wrote in her RTI application filed before the authorities in Mehsana district where she lives with her brother.

"I would like to know under what provisions of the law and the constitution of India am I being provided protection? As wife of the prime minister what are the other benefits I am entitled to?"

Jashodaben says she travels by "public transport while my security personnel travel in official vehicles".

"Given that former prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her security guards, I am frightened by the presence of the security cover. So kindly provide me all details about the security personnel provided to me," her application states.

In an interview with The Indian Express earlier this year, Jashodaben said she lived on a monthly pension of 14,000 rupees ($232; £138).

She said Mr Modi had left her after three years, during which they spent some three months together and that they had parted amicably.

Critics have long accused Mr Modi of deserting his wife after he joined the Hindu nationalist organisation the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which prizes celibacy.

They say the fact that he refused to acknowledge her for so long provides clues about his attitude to women.

Related Topics