On 15 December, journalist Swati Chaturvedi tweeted an image of PM Modi with the caption, ”Does this look like a forced child marriage took you? Yet, Modi never declared this on his mandatory declaration as Gujarat CM”. She later took down her tweet. (Archive link)
Chaturvedi claimed that the photograph was taken at prime minister Narendra Modi’s wedding to Jashodaben who was reportedly 17 at the time marriage. It is noteworthy that PM Modi’s marital status was a mystery until he was forced to acknowledge the same in his poll affidavit as a prime ministerial candidate in 2014.
The photograph has been regularly shared since 2014 with similar claims. National spokesperson of Congress Pawan Khera had tweeted the same image and questioned, “Someone sent this pic, apparently of Modi, his wife & others. Can anyone help in identifying others in the picture?” (Archive link)
Someone sent this pic, apparently of Modi, his wife & others. Can anyone help in identifying others in the picture? pic.twitter.com/GI6H1zmt77
— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) April 12, 2014
The same image has also been uploaded as a Wikipedia file photo where the woman is identified as ‘Jashodaben Narendrabhai Modi’.
National Organising Secretary of ABVP Ashish Chauhan had claimed in 2014 that the woman in the image is “Vandana”, daughter of former education minister of Gujarat Hemant Chapatwala.
— Ashish Chauhan (@AshishSainram) April 12, 2014
A Facebook search took us to an old post by Hemant Chapatwala’s son Keyur Hemant Chapatwala where he described the image as, “Rare Picture of Modiji attending Marriage of My Sister Alpa way back in 1994. Needed to clarify due to false messages & rumors being spread intensely in social media about Shri Narendra Modiji in this Pic.”
Rare Picture of Modiji attending Marriage of My Sister Alpa way back in 1994.
Needed to clarify due to false messages & rumors being spread intensely in social media about shri Narendra Modiji in this Pic.
Alt News contacted Keyur, who is the incumbent BJP OBC Morcha Pramukh in Surat. He confirmed that the woman in the viral image is his sister Alpa Vankawala. The photograph was taken at her wedding on July 14, 1994. Hemant Chapatwala was then a Rajya Sabha member. “Narendra Bhai, Fakir Bhai Chauhan, and other BJP members came to attend the wedding,” Keyur told Alt News.
The individuals in the photograph have been identified below.
(1) Fakir Chauhan
(2) Narendra Modi
(3) Alpa Vankawala (Keyur’s sister)
(4) Damleji (RSS Prant Pracharak)
(5) Utpal Vankawala (Keyur’s brother-in-law/ husband of Alpa)
(6) Kashiram Rana (late BJP MP)
He shared more pictures from the wedding where PM Modi can be spotted with other guests.
A photograph of PM Modi attending a wedding in 1994 frequently circulates as a picture of his own marriage ceremony. The woman in the image is not PM Modi’s estranged wife Jashodaben but Alpa Vankawala, daughter of late former minister Hemant Chapatwala. Alt News found several other pictures of Alpa and her husband Utpal but has refrained from including them in the report to protect the family’s privacy.