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Rahul wife-and-snoop strike on Modi

April 11: Rahul Gandhi today questioned Narendra Modi’s attitude towards women by citing his long delay in acknowledging his wife and his alleged attempt to spy on a young woman in Gujarat.

“I don’t know how many elections he has contested. But for the first time he has written that he is married,” the Congress vice-president told a rally in Jammu’s Doda district.

“In Delhi, he talks about the honour of women but his wife’s name did not reach the affidavit (in the past).”

Rahul’s comments came on a day the Congress approached the Election Commission seeking an FIR against Modi for “hiding” his marriage in past poll affidavits, and the Centre said a judge would be named soon to head the “snoopgate” probe against him.

A purported sting last year had accused Gujarat police of snooping on a woman architect in 2009 at the behest of a Modi aide, directed by “his sahib”. The woman’s father has said he had requested the surveillance.

Rahul told the Doda crowd: “The (Gujarat) chief minister’s entire strength, (the) police’s entire strength is used to tap the phone of a woman. Gujarat police runs after a woman because the chief minister wants to know what is happening.”

He added: “And then they put up a poster in Delhi: Respect women. What sort of respect is it?”

While filing his nomination from Vadodara on Wednesday, Modi had for the first time mentioned in a poll affidavit that he was married to “Jashodaben”, whom reports have described as a retired schoolteacher.

Modi, said to have separated from her months after their teenage marriage in 1968, used to leave the column for “spouse” blank in his past poll affidavits before the Election Commission made it mandatory to fill in all the columns.

The BJP today reacted to Rahul’s allegations saying Modi had never lied about his marriage and that there was “no aggrieved party” because Jashodaben had never complained against him.

‘Snoop’ & FIR

The Centre had ordered a judicial probe last winter following charges that the alleged surveillance had continued beyond Gujarat’s borders but hasn’t yet named the judge.

Questioned about the delay, Union law minister Kapil Sibal today told reporters: “We have not backed out. We have to only name the judge. We know the judge. The timing of the announcement will be decided.”

He said that since the probe had been announced earlier, appointing its head now would not violate the poll panel’s model code of conduct.

A Congress petition to the Election Commission accused Modi of filing “wrong affidavits” in the past four (Assembly) elections he contested.

It accused Modi of “intentional falsification… criminal breach of trust and cheating in submission of nomination papers” and sought an FIR under various penal sections including Section 420 (cheating).

The Congress told the poll panel that Modi had repeatedly claimed that he was “single”.

“He made a virtue out of being ‘single’… bereft of any trappings of family or relatives as an evidence of his selfless service,” its petition said.

It quoted from a speech by Modi in February where he said: “And secondly my brothers, why do I need to be corrupt? For whom do I want money? I have nobody in this world….”

‘Porn’ punch

In Jammu, Rahul continued taunting the BJP on its attitude towards women, referring to how two Karnataka ministers had been caught watching porn in the Assembly two years ago.

“I saw their poster in Delhi which said, ‘We want to empower woman’. I went to Karnataka and I was told that BJP ministers are committing atrocities on women. In the Assembly, the BJP ministers watch a film. You know what sort of film they watched,” he said.

Rahul also targeted Chhattisgarh’s BJP government. “I was told that 20,000 women have gone missing in Chhattisgarh. They (the government) do not know where they have gone.”

He took a pot shot at the crony capitalism Modi is said to encourage, referring to allegations of land being doled out cheap to the Adani Group.

“In Gujarat, one person has been given thousands of acres of land for free. Labourers and farmers are crying. (BJP veterans L.K.) Advani and Jaswant Singh were shunted out and Adani was brought in,” he said.

BJP defence

BJP leaders warned the Congress against raking up Modi’s marriage. “I know many secrets of the Gandhi family too from Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv but do not want to disclose them,” senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said. “Modi had never said that he was single,” Prasad claimed.

“Why are they going into personal things? People want an answer to the country’s problems. He (Rahul) can talk about it later and hold a panchayat. It will cost Congress heavily. Don’t get into these things, it will boomerang,” former BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said.

Panchayat plea

A panchayat in Jind district of Haryana today appealed to Modi to reunite with his wife. The sarpanch of Bibipur panchayat said a mail had been sent to the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate on an appeal from villagers, including scores of women.

Poster mud

Narendra Modi’s supporters in Varanasi on Friday released a poster describing him as “desh premi (patriot)” and leaders of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party as “patni premi (loving husbands)”.

“It is a fight between a person who loves his nation and left home and family to serve the country, against those who love their wives and not the nation,” said Ashok Chaurasia, a local BJP leader who is associated with Modi’s campaign, while releasing the poster.

The poster has photographs of Jawaharlal Nehru with Edwina Mountbatten and of Rahul Gandhi being hugged by an enthusiastic Congress worker. It also shows Shashi Tharoor with his late wife Sunanda Pushkar, Digvijaya Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav and
Mohammad Azam Khan.

The BJP’s election in-charge for Modi in Varanasi, Ashok Dhavan, accepted that Chaurasia belonged to the party but said he was not aware of the poster. “I will inquire into the matter,” he said. (PTI)