Trump joke about “setting up” India’s Modi brings up story of his estranged wife
After learning from his aides that India’s Prime Minister Modi is estranged from his wife, US President Trump jokingly said that he could “set him up with somebody”, according to sources close to the president who were at the meeting.
The comment was made after Trump’s staff told Trump that Modi, 67, will not be bringing his wife to a meeting at the White House.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico that Trump has developed “strong relationships” with “America’s closest allies,” which allow for “candid conversations.”
Prime Minister Modi got married to his now estranged wife, Jashodaben Narendrabhai Modi, when he was a teenager, which was considered a norm in his village’s culture and tradition. Shortly after, Modi left his village and his wife, and never officially mentioned her since he ran for office in 2014.
Jashodaben, 66, is a retired teacher who still lives in Modi’s home state Gujarat.
In 2015, Jashodaben told The Washington Post that she still hopes to join her husband as his spouse in India’s capital.
“If he calls me, I will go,” she said in an interview with the newspaper back then. “I hear all his speeches on TV. I feel very good when I hear him speak. I want him to fulfill all his promises to the people. That’s my prayer to God.”
Jashodaben was only 17 when she was wed to Modi, who was 18 at the time. Child marriages are still common in many parts of the country, although they are considered illegal.
According to The Washington Post, Modi never divorced his estranged wife, and was assigned official security when he became prime minister.
“The security travels in an air-conditioned car. But my sister takes buses, trains and auto rickshaws. What kind of justice is this? Should a prime minister's wife not get a car?” her brother told the newspaper.
But Modi’s wife still maintains that she is his wife. When a politician from his party said that Modi was not married, Jashodaben issues a video stating: “I am and would remain his wife.”