Jashodaben Modi

Once a month here on the Molten Sulfur Blog, I run content taken from our book Archive: Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs. This post is one of eighty entries in Archive, each more gameable than the last!

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Image credit: Lane Rasberry, released under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International license.

Jashodaben Modi
The Secret Wife

When Narendra Modi, India’s 14th prime minister, was the favorite to win the election, he would often mention in his campaigns that he would be hard to corrupt. As a longtime bachelor without any family, he had no one to sell out for. But in 2014, a bureaucratic detail forced him to declare the existence of a wife.

This declaration surprised most voters, but it confirmed the findings of a team of journalists who tracked down Jashodaben Modi in 2009. Jashodaben Modi was a retired primary school teacher. She and Narendra were brought together in a marriage arranged by their parents when she was 17 and he was 18. A few months after their marriage, Jashodaben was sent back to her home to complete her education. The two never reunited.

Jashodaben lived in anonymity until the journalists tracked her down in 2009. When she was discovered, she became a symbol of grit and determination. Despite being abandoned by her husband just a few months after their marriage, she was determined to be self-reliant, refusing to be weighed down by her unfortunate circumstances. She was known for her simplicity; though she made a salary that could afford her a good home, she chose to live in a tin shack covering barely 100 square feet.

After Narendra Modi admitted Jashodaben was his wife, she expressed joy at being acknowledged after so many years. Despite him never mentioning her, she was grateful that he never denied they were married and that he never spoke badly about her in public. Despite his mistreatment of her, she does not tolerate anyone speaking ill of her husband. Jashodaben said she still respects him, that she is still his wife and would always remain so despite their long separation.

Ever since the election, Narendra Modi has maintained a stoic silence on the issue of his marriage, even walking out of interviews that start to press on the topic. Narendra was supposedly influenced by the teachings of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) when he first parted from his wife, a strict Hindu organization that supposedly requires a vow of celibacy. His affiliation with the group eventually led to his power.

Narendra’s brother claims Narendra was forced into the marriage by the traditions of his low caste, and that it was never consummated. People close to Jashodaben say that despite her tough exterior, she longs for a call from her estranged husband, asking her to come and be with him again. She remains in her small shack, living off her retirement pension, while he is the prime minister of India.

Jashodaben Modi in Play

An NPC based on Jashodaben Modi would be an interesting connection to someone in power. She brings with her a heated controversy in which other people are more concerned with how she is treated than she herself is. Her intense loyalty could even be a threat to the party if she sees them as a threat to her husband. You could even conceal her marriage from the party, revealing in a dramatic twist that a recurring NPC of whom the PCs are fond is actually connected to the highest rungs of power. Or perhaps Jashodaben is saddled with a security detail over which she has no control, and the goons are causing trouble in her village. Jashodaben Modi would be the determined, self-reliant, and loyal wife that few politicians deserve.

Image credit: Denise Duplinksi

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