Vadnagar: It's Day 4 of CNN-IBN's Gujarat yatra and CNN-IBN heads to Vadnagar, which is the hometown of Chief Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi. The town, which boasts of a rich history, is completely sold on the idea of Modi and finding a detractor there is next to impossible.
In the narrow bylanes it isn't hard to locate the house where the family, from the low Ghanchi caste, lived. The house has been sold, it's new owners have given it more than a fresh coat of paint, adding a floor, making it more comfortable, though slightly uneasy about its previous owners.
The third of seven children, Narendra Modi, helped his father Damodardas Mulchand Modi run a tea shop at the Vadnagar railway station, while mother Heeraben worked in an oil mill. Childhood wasn't easy and brother Prahlad believes it's during this tough period that elder brother Narendra may have developed his absolute approach. "Narendra Modi faced hardships in his early life, he had to sell tea and pakoras. His views probably hardened at that time," Prahlad Modi said.
The Bhagavatacharya Narayanacharya High School, where Modi studied is shut today, but teacher Prahlad Patel, who taught him Sanskrit and Gujarati remembers the slightly above average student, who took part in debates. "I wasn't sure what he would be when he grew up, but I knew he was unusual," Prahlad Patel said.
Between school and helping his parents, it was the Shakhas that Modi devoted most of his attention to. A young man who was in search of something more, gave up his marital life, leaving Vadnagar early on. "He gave up his family life to join the RSS. Even today his ties with his family are not as they should be," Prahlad Modi said.
Through all this radical makeover, Modi has never tried to promote his family. His mother still lives in a one-room apartment. One of his brothers is a clerk at the secratariat and Prahlad runs a fair price shop. This absence of family is part of Modi's appeal for the middle class, underlining his reputation of personal honesty.
Vadnagar, though, needs no convincing. The streets are well paved, industry has come and local water bodies have been beautified. Ask any one about the 2002 riots and the answer has many versions. "There is no need for Narendra Modi to apologise for 2002 as he is not guilty. The accusations are a conspiracy against him," Prahlad says. He may have his detractors elsewhere in the state, but one would be hard pressed to find one in Vadnagar.