Ahead of Narendra Modi's Mumbai visit, PM's wife Jashodaben fasts for slum dwellers

In a development that took many in Mumbai by surprise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's wife Jashodaben on Friday joined members of an NGO on a day-long token hunger strike in support of slum dwellers here.

Jashodaben -- whose arrival was not known even to the local police -- was flanked by five National Security Guard commandos as she joined 'Good Samaritan Mission' non-governmental organisation's volunteers to demand a halt to demolitions of slums in Mumbai during the monsoon.

Narendra Modi's wife Jashodaben (in pink sari) joins members of an NGO on a day-long token hunger strike in support of slum dwellers in Azad Maidan in south Mumbai. Pic/IANS

"Every year, we witness the inhuman spectacle of hundreds of slums being demolished just before or during the monsoon and people being thrown out in the streets. We are demanding that the authorities concerned should put a stop to this practice," Brother Peter Paul Raj, Good Samaritan Mission founder and ex-aide of Mother Teresa, told IANS at the protest venue.

Jashodaben sat on the token hunger strike for a few hours before departing without much fanfare.

Brother Raj said Jashodaben's presence and support would prove invaluable for the cause of the slum dwellers and their children who are the worst sufferers of demolition activities.

When this reporter asked why was Jasodhaben invited for the programme as she hails from Gujarat and has no direct connection with Mumbai, Brother Raj said that if normal people protest there's no importance and hence they got Jasodhaben who is important because she is the PM's wife.

He said, "We had invited Jasodhaben, because she is an important person. When normal people protest hardly people take a note of it. We had informed her and spoken to her twice, and she readily accepted the invite."

The protest according to Brother Raj, who is from Vikhroli-based Vijay Ashram, was because the state government carries out demolition drives just before the monsoon leaving many people homeless.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to launch the high-profile 'Make In India Week' here on Saturday evening in the presence of a galaxy of VVIPs, including three foreign heads of governments.

Narendra Modi's wife Jashodaben (in pink sari) joins members of an NGO on a day-long token hunger strike in support of slum dwellers in Azad Maidan in south Mumbai
Narendra Modi's wife Jashodaben (in pink sari) joins members of an NGO on a day-long token hunger strike in support of slum dwellers in Azad Maidan in south Mumbai. Pic/IANS

Prime Ministers Juha Petri Sipila, Kjell Stefan Lofven and Algirdas Butkevicius of Finland, Sweden and Lithuania, respectively, will join Modi at the inaugural function at National Sports Club of India ground, Worli.

Also present will be Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, several union and state ministers, secretaries of various departments, diplomats, top industrialists and businessmen from across India and other stakeholders.

(With Inputs from Varun Singh)

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