Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well-known as a right-wing, controversial yet successful politician, who was longest-serving chief minister of Gujarat and later became India’s Prime Minister after successful Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
As Modi celebrates his 64th birthday today, we look back at his past and find out facts about him that are lesser-known in the public domain –from his education to early marriage to his dressing style.
Here are 17 new things that we learnt about Modi:
It was at a rally in Domariyaganj, UP, that Narendra Modi revealed that he belonged to a backward caste. The revelation of his caste wasn’t intentional. In fact, it came as a retort to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s comment that the BJP leaders indulge in “neech rajneeti”. Replying to her at a rally in Domariyaganj, Uttar Pradesh, he had said, “I cannot deny I was born into a ‘neechi jaati’ (backward caste) but is that a crime?”
Modi’s marriage to Jashodaben was one of the more stunning revelations about him during this election. Until the filing of his nomination papers, his marriage to Jashodaben was a topic which was rarely touched and which never got any reaction from Narendra Modi. However, for the first time, Modi admitted that he has a wife when he filed his nomination appers from the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat. Modi has been living separately from his wife, Jashodaben, a retired school teacher. In his defence, Modi’s brother Sombhai defended him saying that Modi’s was a child marriage and that he was forced into it.
His time away from his family: Modi spent nearly 30 years away from his family. The day after he got married, Narendra Modi, quietly in the early morning slipped out and caught the first train out of Vadnagar and reached Ahmedabad. He stayed away for nearly 30 years before he returned home.
Modi believes in his core team: As Gujarat CM, Modi had utter faith in his core team of four IAS officers who were with him for a long time working behind the curtains to make Gujarat into the state that Modi is so proud of. The four men are principal chief secretary Kuniyil Kailashnathan, GC Murmu, AK Sharma and Vijay Nehra. It is believed that if and when Modi takes oath as the prime minister, two of these men – Kuniyil Kailashnathan and GC Murmu – will head to Delhi with him.
From his utterances about puppies and rhinos in his campaign speeches, Modi appears to be an animal lover. Why else would he refer to the animal world during his whirlwind campaign tours across the length and breadth of the country?
Modi wanted to become a sanyasi: As a child, he had wanted to become a sanyasi. As a child, Modi had wanted to become a sanyasi and, fascinated with sadhus, different forms of worship, Modi had run away from home after completing his school education. After travelling aimlessly and visiting many places including Ramkrishna Ashram of Belur in West Bengal, he finally reached the Himalayas, where he stayed with some Sadhus for a few months. He returned home after two years without money and with two pairs of clothes after deciding to give up his idea of becoming a sanyasi.
Very particular about his appearance: Modi is very particular about his appearance in public. Narendra Modi is known to be extremely particular about his appearance in public. He prefers to sport a neatly trimmed beard and well groomed hair. He is known for his crisp half-sleeved silk, khadi and linen kurtas and churidar pyjamas, coupled with finely-tailored Nehru jackets, usually in bright, eye-catching colours. His designer was the store Jade Blue, Ahmedabad’s most expensive couture store.
Sex symbol status: Though he may not acknowledge it, he is seen as a sex symbol in his own state. Though he may not acknowledge it, he is known as a sex symbol in Gujarat. Apparently, the number of women who come for his meetings and gatherings is far higher than that of the men who turn up. No other politician in the state gets such an attendance.
A teetotaler and vegetarian: Modi during his Kailash Yatra. Modi is known to be a complete teetotaler and vegetarian. A man of traditional values, Modi is an absolute teetotaler – he doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke and is a hardcore vegetarian. So much so that he isn’t known to harbour even any minor vices.
Image manager: A three-month course in public relations has made Modi a master at image management. Narendra Modi has done a three-month course on public relations and image management in the US. Perhaps that’s one reason, other than the development in Gujarat and now as the Indian PM, that he has managed to position himself as one of the most sought-after politicians in India.
Narendra Modi was born to lower middle class parents in northern Gujarat. As a youth, he worked in his family’s tea stall, according to a biography. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Narendra Modi was temperamental and is said to have run away from home to the Himalayas. After some years wandering through the Himalayas on a journey of spiritual discovery, Modi rose through the ranks of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist organisation that is the ideological parent of the BJP. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Modi is absolutely terrified of being humiliated. In a time when most of our leaders are targets of a shoe or an egg attack – Modi makes it a point to have a net erected at all public meeting so that he does not have to be embarrassed by a hurling footwear. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Modi is very close to his mother, Heeraben, and makes it a point to take her blessing before embarking on a new venture. On his 64th birthday, Modi is said to have met Heeraben to seek her blessings. Once after a meeting with Modi, Aakar Patel had asked him what would he do afterward and Modi replied: ‘Go home to my mother, of course, as she is very old. (REUTERS/Amit Dave)
Modi is inspired by the life and the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. This is the reason why in 2012 Modi kicked off his assembly election campaign in Gujarat with a month-long Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra which passed through 182 assembly constituencies in the state. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A stocky, bespectacled man with a trimmed white beard, Modi is known for his ascetic lifestyle and enthusiasm for yoga. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA – Tags: RELIGION POLITICS HEALTH)
Modi is prolific poet and a writer but this has escaped the media attention as he writes only in Gujarati. Aakar Patel says as a poet Modi is in the same vein of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)