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My son loves everyone: Modi's mother
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Vadnagar, Mehasana District |
December 07, 2002 16:31 IST
"My son is not against anybody. For him Desh Prem [love of the nation] is more important than anything else in life," says Hiraben, mother of the caretaker Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.
When you tell her that Muslims dislike her son, she says, "Ask the Muslims of Vadnagar. They will never say anything against my son. He is not against Muslims. He always used to tell me that if there is one person who is ready to die for the country, it is him."
On entering Vadnagar in Mehsana district, there is a huge poster of Modi next to those of the burning Sabarmati Express and Akshardham temple. Everyone here knows where Hiraben lives. The roads are narrow, but made of concrete. Cows and buffaloes greet you on the road to Modi's house near Modi gully.
One has to walk down the gully, as cars cannot enter. The resident are proud of the fact that a boy, who once used to run around in front of them, has become the chief minister and is the most popular leader in the state.
However, Modi is one of those rare politicians who has not done anything for his family and the locality where he grew up.
He has visited his family only five times ever since he left home in his teens to join the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He never attended marriages and other social functions in his family, but came when his father died. And apart from a telephone call every Diwali, Modi does not have any contact with his mother.
Hiraben's husband, Damodarbhai, was a small-time businessman and they had five sons and one daughter -- Soma, Narendra, Amrith, Prahlad, Pankaj and Vasanti [daughter].
Hiraben lives with the youngest son, Pankaj, who works in the information department of the state government in Gandhinagar.
In spite of the fact that his brother is the chief minister, Pankaj takes a local bus to office. On an average he spends four hours travelling everyday, as the family does not even own a scooter.
Hiraben says she doesn't resent the fact that her son never helps her financially. "My son is a man of principle. He will only help if people at large are benefited. Our whole family believes in simple living. In fact, we always taught Narendra to live honesty. So why should I feel bad if he does not help us financially," she says.
Hiraben is in her late eighties and cannot walk without the help a cane. She wears thick spectacles and dresses up in a simple white sari. Though her elder sons are settled in Ahmedabad, she says she will not move away from Vadnagar. "I love my motherland very much and I cannot move to Ahmedabad because I don't like that place so much."
Reminiscing, Hiraben says, "Once he [Modi] found a one-rupee coin on the road... I told him to spend it on himself. But instead he gave that coin to a poor man's daughter in our village, who needed money to buy books and pencils.
"I remember once he got home a baby crocodile, which was in bad condition. He wanted to nurse it, but we asked him to release it in the river. He agreed, but reluctantly. I know he loves everyone."
Hiraben says her son does all his work, including washing and ironing his clothes. "And yes, no matter what the temperature is, he always takes bath in cold water," she adds.
Ask her which party she will vote for, Hiraben says, "Of course BJP! I always used to vote for the Jan Sangh [the BJP's parent party]. If you have parents then you cannot change them. In the same ways, if you have one party you must vote for that party only."
Like all mothers, Hiraben misses her son very much. "After all I am his mother. But luckily, now I see him on television everyday and give him blessings. I feel very proud of him."