Vadnagar (Gujarat): As sisters-in-law Vinodaben and Hiraben wash clothes, another sister-in-law waters the tulsi plant. Family friend Vijaybhai Modi is a former electricity line man. Cousin Chandrakant Modi is a shopkeeper. He says Narendrabhai (Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has always played by his own rules.
“He’s a man good man and follows the right path,” says Chandrakant Modi.
The tiny historic town of Vadnagar in north Gujarat is Narendra Modi’s birthplace.
This is his first home. He swam in the Sharmistha tank every morning before cycling into Bhagwatacharya Narayancharya High School.
But he always dreamt of being far bigger than his family and friends. “He was always very ambitious,” says his friend Ishwarbhai Patel.
Modi does no favours for his family and they lead a poor lower middle class life.
When he was Chief Minister he cancelled his brother Prahlad Modi’s ration shop license and his youngest brother Pankajbhai said in an interview, “I once got a job that took me to a far off place. I asked Narendrabhai for help but he refused, telling me never to call him in these matters. My daughter is a B.Ed and unemployed. Is any Chief Minister’s niece unemployed in India?
But whether or not he wins the Assembly elections this time around, Vadnagar is certainly rooting for him. Why just Chief Minister, they would like him to be Prime Minister.
But some believe Modi’s too arrogant to care about his family.
“He has strong self belief and a charged personality. There was megalomania like Indira Gandhi that can be seen,” says Praveen Sheth, Narendra Modi’s teacher.
In Vadnagar, his friends and family are proud of Narendrabhai. Deve Gowda has his son, the Nehru-Gandhis have their dynasty, the pilots and Scindias maintain their bloodlines in politics. But Narendra Modi has never had much time for his neglected family.