Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Modi, Marathi and the Mills of Ahmedabad: Untold story of PM Modi's proficiency in Marathi

By Ishaan Prakash (ANI) | Updated: Oct 20, 2018 20:30 IST

New Delhi [India] October 20 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi pleasantly surprised many on October 19, during his interaction with beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri AawasYojna in Maharashtra, when he broke into chaste Marathi.
No sooner did the PM finish the interaction that various media houses began to speculate the roots of Modi's near perfect Marathi. Some media houses linked it to Modi's close association with top RSS leader Laxmanrao Inamdar 'Vakil Saheb' (who Modi named during the interaction, referring to his origins in Satara) and subsequent interactions with Mohan Bhagwat in Gujarat.
The real story of PM Modi's conversant Marathi has a much simpler and more benign origin. Sources close to PM Modi revealed that Narendra Modi picked up Marathi during his days as a RSS Pracharak, when he used to stop over for meals at the residence of the Bhate family, based in the Calico Mills area in Gujarat's Ahmedabad.
The Bhate family was based near Behrampura in Ahmedabad, which locals also refer to as the Calico Mills area, due to the presence of one of the earliest textile mills in Ahmedabad.
Like all Pracharaks, Modi's role too involved close interaction with local families. Due to that, he would closely interact with the Bhate family, particularly over meals. Since the Bhate family traced their roots to Maharashtra, they would talk in Marathi in front of Modi, who would gradually pick up the language. In fact, the Bhate family and Modi had an informal arrangement of sorts that they would serve Modi food only when Modi asked for it in Marathi.
In the same neighborhood that the Bhate family resided in, lived another family with multi-ethnic roots. In that family, there was a small girl who was proficient in six languages owing to the fact that her mother was a Bengali, father a Malayali but all inhabitants of Ahmedabad (hence, Gujarati) that lived in a locality that spoke predominantly Marathi, including a close friendship with the Marathi speaking Bhate family.
Taking inspiration from this girl's ease in being conversant in roughly six languages Narendra Modi continued to interact in Marathi, albeit in a rudimentary fashion at first but gradually, he became confident enough to make a promise to this girl that whenever they would meet, Marathi would be the language of choice when they would interact.
Later on, Modi was sent to Vadodara for RSS work. Vadodara, with a strong influence of the Gaekwad dynasty had a strong Marathi presence. This sharpened Modi's Marathi. In fact, he also interacted with the founder of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh Dattopant Thengadi in Marathi.
What surprised many on October 19, when PM interacted in Marathi came as no surprise to those that knew the story of Narendra Modi, the RSS Pracharak, that picked up a language from the by-lanes of the Mill areas of Ahmedabad. (ANI)

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