Seeking to contain a controversy over Narendra Modi's marital status, his elder brother Somabhai on Thursday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate's marriage should be seen as a "social formality" which happened nearly 50 years ago.
Modi acknowledged his marriage to Jashodaben for the first time in his affidavit filed along with his nomination papers in Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency on Wednesday which has invited derisive remarks from the Congress. In the state assembly polls, he had left blank the column about spouse.
In a statement sent to the media by the BJP, Somabhai said, "Our parents had not studied much and we were a poor family. To them Narendra was like any other child. In such context our parents conducted his marriage in a tender age with Jashodaben, but it turned out to be just a social formality for the sake of it."
"Modi, after leaving the house has not kept any contact with the family," Somabhai said, adding, "Service to the nation was his only religion. So he left home and this material world. His marriage was just a formality as he left the house soon after his marriage.
"Even Jashodaben has been living at her father's home and spending her life working in the education sector," Somabhai said. "The incident (Modi's marriage) which had occurred 45-50 years ago is to be seen in the background of a poor and traditionally orthodox family," he said.
Somabhai said that Narendra Modi's current status should not be evaluated on the basis of "an incident" that had occurred 45 to 50 years ago. Praising his younger brother, he said, "Narendrabhai was different amongst the six siblings. His interest in the service to the nation was quite apparent to us.
"But nobody could have estimated the intensity of his idea of service to the nation. He was also very influenced with the sacrifice and dedication of Swami Vivekananda and Lord Gautam Buddha."
Somabhai said that his younger brother had left the house and the family because he believed in the concept of 'world is a family'. Modi's family members did not know much about him as he has never maintained active contact with them after he left the house, he said.
In his Wednesday’s affidavit Modi has stated that he has no information about the assets and liabilities of his wife. His another brother Prahlad said that Modi has never denied that he is a married man and in the earlier election forms he had kept the column of wife blank.
"He has never denied it (marriage). In the earlier election (affidavits) the column (about spouse) would have been left blank due to some reasons. Whether he did it intentionally or not that is his personal issue," Prahlad said.