Discussing other people’s wives is not politically correct. But details on wives in affidavits of the candidates are providing ammunition for a bitter battle between arch rivals Congress and BJP 12 years after they had united to oppose the Supreme Court move to include familial details.
It started with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday asking why BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi had in his earlier affidavits not declared that he had a wife. Later, law minister Kapil Sibal asked the Election Commission to take action against Modi for not being ‘honest’ in the past.
Sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra backed Rahul’s attack on Modi’s ‘marital discrepancy’.
For the first time in his affidavit submitted on Thursday to the returning officer at Vadodara, Modi disclosed information about his wife Jashodaben Modi. Her name was mentioned in the column where information about assets and liabilities of spouse and children are sought.
The EC does not seek the marital status of a candidate.
The BJP hit back on Saturday with party leader Subramaniam Swamy petitioning the poll body seeking action against Sibal, contesting from Chandni Chowk in Delhi, for not disclosing his wife’s assets and liabilities in three companies owned by her. Sibal dared Swamy to prove it.
Modi also joined in, asking EC to probe Congress’ Amritsar candidate Amarinder Singh for concealing foreign bank account of his wife Preneet Kaur. The EC has already sought a reply from Kaur, the Congress candidate from Patiala.
Jagdeep Chhokar of Association for Democratic Reforms, on whose petition the 2002 SC ruling came, said it takes time for political parties to understand what people want but it was “better late than never”.
Providing wrong information in an affidavit cannot be a reason for rejection of nomination, but leaving any column blank is.
Incorrect affidavit can be a ground to move court, but only against the winning candidate. Around 9,000 candidates have filed their affidavits.