The private hospital where she was admitted issued a statement that said Heeraben Modi breathed her last at 3.30 am on Friday. Modi had visited her in hospital on December 28 soon after she was admitted. Modi, who was scheduled to attend some programmes in Kolkata during the day, rushed to Ahmedabad in the morning. He performed the last rites in the presence of his brothers and other family members at a crematorium in Gandhinagar.
In a tribute to his mother, Modi said in her he always found a “trimurti (a mix of three ideals)” – one who “traversed the path of an ascetic”, “a symbol of selfless service” and a “life committed to values”.
In another Twitter post, Modi recalled that on her 100th birthday this year she had told him to “work with his brains and live life with purity”.
Soon after her cremation, Modi got back to official work with some alterations in his schedule. He flagged off the Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat train, the Joka-Taratala stretch of Kolkata metro and the Namami Gange development work through video conferencing. Later, he also attended a National Ganga Council meeting virtually. In his speech, Modi expressed regret for not attending the programmes in person due to “personal reasons”.
Born on June 18, 1923, Heeraben Modi led an austere life full of struggle and a fight for livelihood. She is survived by five sons — Prahlad, Amrit, Somabhai, Pankaj and Narendra — and a daughter Vasantiben. On several occasions, Modi asserted that he was greatly influenced by her and often mentioned her struggles in his speeches and writings.
He had earlier said that when he embarked on his career as a public servant, his mother had taught him never to take a bribe or allow others to take it. His slogan “Na Khaaunga, Na Khaane Dunga (will neither take a bribe nor let anybody else take it)” came from this lesson. Describing her as his guide whose sacrifices were an inspiration for him, Modi said she was an example of somebody who was learned despite having no formal education.
Modi had penned an emotional piece on her last birthday in which he said, “My mother is as simple as she is extraordinary. Just like all mothers.” He would visit her every year on her birthday and spend some time with her. Even after his rise to the post of prime minister, Heeraben treated Modi like any mother would treat her son — giving him small amounts of money, feeding him sweets, sharing a meal with him.
During his sporadic visits to her residence after becoming PM, Modi would wash her feet and seek her blessings. The strong bond between the mother and son was visible in these interactions.
No member of Modi’s family lived in the official residence of the prime minister, who had abandoned family life after becoming a Swayamsevak decades back. Heeraben lived in a modest house in Ahmedabad. She visited him a few times at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg and pictures released by his office show Modi taking her in a wheelchair around the complex.
Modi had on numerous occasions said his mother worked in the homes of other people to earn money to raise her children. This struggle, the prime minister stated, often inspired him to come up with welfare schemes aimed at women and the poor.
Despite her advanced age, Heeraben was active till the end. In 2017, she stood in a queue outside an ATM to get new currency post-demonetisation. These gestures also sent out a message of her constant support for the prime minister.