It is official now.
Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist and front-runner to become India's next prime minister, has publicly stated for the first time that he is married.
The 63-year-old controversial BJP leader has admitted about his marital status under oath that he has a wife. At the age of 17, he married Jashodaben who almost of his age.
In election papers filed on Wednesday to run for a seat in Gujarat's Vadodara constituency, Modi wrote the name "Jashodaben" in a mandatory column regarding his marital status. He had left the column blank on previous occasions, including in the last Gujarat state election in 2012.
Jashodaben is a retired school teacher in Brahmanwada, a village about 35km from Modi's hometown, Vadnagar, and gets a monthly pension of Rs 14,000 a month and leads a reclusive life with her brother in a village in western part of Gujarat, according to media reports.
Modi, a former activist of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a hardcore Hindu nationalist group, refrained from specifying his marital status in nomination papers for Gujarat state legislature elections in 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2012
Congress party had often taunted Modi to mention about his marital status, adds our New Delhi correspondent.
Modi and Jashodaben parted ways after just two weeks of their nuptials and the marriage was never consummated.
The declaration by the BJP leader about his marital status in an affidavit is reported to have come after strict legal advice that he come clean on the marriage.
As per the Representation of the People Act, 1951, every candidate is required to declare even assets held in the name of the spouse. However, Modi in his affidavit this time says he has no information about the assets of Jashodaben.
Modi had in election speeches in recent months flaunted his single status and at a rally in February said, "I have no family ties, I am single. Who will I be corrupt for?"
Jashodaben had recently told a newspaper that she and Narendra Modi split three years into their marriage and since he left "we have never been in touch".
In an interview with The Indian Express in February, she said, "I know he will become PM one day."
Asked if Modi ever told her he was quitting the marriage, she said, “He told me once that “I will be travelling across the country and will go as and where I please; what will you do following me?
“When I came to Vadnagar to live with his family, he told me “why did you come to your in-laws' house when you are still so young, you must instead focus on pursuing your studies.
“The decision to leave was my own and there was never any conflict between us. He never spoke to me about the RSS or about his political leanings.
“When he told me he would be moving around the country as he wished, I told him I would like to join him. However, on many occasions when I went to my in-laws' place, he would not be present and he stopped coming there. He used to spend a lot of time in RSS shakhas. So I too stopped going there after a point and I went back to my father's house.”
Asked why she has never remarried, Jashodaben said, “After this experience, I don't think I want to. My heart is not into it.”
Yesterday, Modi's elder brother Somabhai Damodar Modi issued a statement explaining that their family had married him off as a child but he walked away because he wanted to serve the country.
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.
"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."
His another brother Prahlad said Modi has never denied that he is a married man and in the earlier election forms he had kept the column of wife blank, reports DNA India.
"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."