Friday, Dec 01, 2023

Who Is Prahlad Modi, PM Narendra Modi's Brother, And Why Is He Protesting At Jantar Mantar?

Who Is Prahlad Modi, PM Narendra Modi's Brother, And Why Is He Protesting At Jantar Mantar?

Prahlad Modi, the younger brother of PM Narendra Modi, has been protesting for fair price shops' issues since his brother's chief ministerial days.

Prahlad Modi, younger brother of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prahlad Modi, younger brother of Prime Minister Narendra Modi PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's younger brother Prahlad Modi will stage a dharna on Tuesday in Delhi's Jantar Mantar. 

The dharna is being organised by All India Fair Price Shop Dealers' Federation (AIFPSDF), of which Prahlad is the Vice President. 

This is not the first time that Prahlad has participdated in a protest or has criticised the policies of the government that his brother leads. Prahlad has been associated with the agitating organisation AIFPSDF since 2001, according to a report, and has continued to participate in protests even after his elder brother became prime minister in 2014.

Here is all you need to know about Prahlad, why he protests against the government, the relationship with his elder brother, and what he has said in past.

Prahlad Modi ran a ration shop

Prahlad Modi is the Vice President of All India Fair Price Shop Dealers' Federation (AIFPSDF), founded in 2001. 

Prahlad used to run a fair-price shop, but Deccan Herald last year reported that he had recently retired due to old age. Despite retirement from the shop, he continues to be active in Federation's activities.

Fair price shops function under the Indian public distribution system (PDS) network. These shops are licensed to sell essential goods like wheat, rice, and kerosene to ration-card holders at subsidised rates. People from economically backward and below-poverty-line groups are the main beneficiaries of such shops. 

Prahlad has been raising issues related to fair price shops for several years now. A Deccan Herald report noted that he also led a delegation that met Modi over these issues when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The meeting covered issues such as low quality supplies to fair price shops.

The report adds that Prahlad is the fourth of six children born to Damodardas Modi and Hira Ben Modi. It adds that that PM Modi is closest to Prahlad and his mother Hira Ben in the family.

Why is Prahlad Modi protesting now?

The Federation has a total of nine demands, one of which is an increase in the commission set by the government for the goods that fair price shop dealers sell.

"We used to get 70 paisa commission on 1 kilogram of ration, now we get 90 paisa. We have been demanding a commission of Rs 4," said Kali Charan Gupta, Co-President of AIFPSDF, to The Print in June. 

PTI has reported that other demands cover compensation for loss on rice, wheat and sugar, and also for edible oil and pulses to be supplied through fair price shops. The Federation also demands that the 'West Bengal Ration Model' of free distribution be implemented across the country.

The dharna will be followed by submitting a memorandum addressed to the prime minister. A statement by the Federation added that members also plan to meet Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Wednesday.

Prahlad Modi's protests, criticism of BJP government

As stated earlier, this is not the first time that Prahlad Modi has held protests. He has been protesting and raising demands since PM Modi was Gujarat's Chief Minister. He has continued his in the years since he became prime minister.

Some of the notable instances when he has held protests or has been critical of his brother's governments are listed below:

1. In March 2015, Prahlad made the sharpest comments on his brother's government, saying that it has "failed" to live up to peoples' expectations and lacked will to resolve their problems.

Prahlad was at the time staging a protest at Jantar Mantar as fair price shop dealers held protest in state capitals on issues such as the demand of an increase in their commission. 

2. In February 2021, Prahlad Modi held a dharna at Lucknow airport after alleging that his supporters had been arrested in Uttar Pradesh. Notably, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power in UP. 

Deccan Herald reported at the time: "While the police officials did not confirm the arrests, Prahalad Modi, who arrived here to take part in some social functions at Sultanpur, Pratapgarh and other places in the state, alleged that around a dozen people, who had reached the airport to receive him, were taken into custody."

3. Later in 2021, The Print noted that Prahlad asked traders to not pay Good and Services Tax (GST) until various demands made by the traders' association at the time were realised.

Notably, Prahlad has in the past mentioned that he is a member of the BJP, but has also said that it does not mean he would protest their policies.

Prahlad in an interview with IANS noted that PM Modi during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister had helped resolve problems of fair price shop owners in Gujarat.

The relationship between Prahlad and Narendra Modi

Prahlad Modi has repeatedly criticised his brother PM Narendra Modi's government over the years, but he has maintained that he is criticising government policies and not his brother, and that he holds Modi in high regard. At the same time, Prahlad has made it clear that he is committed to his organisation and would do whatever is in its best interests. 

Prahlad made his stand clear in the 2015 protest when he made sharpest comments on his brother's government.

"What I am doing is not revolt of a brother against a brother. For me my brother is worth worshiping. I respect him. But I am in a profession and had to come to this platform to raise my voice before my brother," said Prahlad, as per PTI.

Prahlad only met PM Modi thrice between 2006-14 and has not met him since he became prime minister. But the two brothers have a healthy relationship, says Prahlad.

He told IANS in 2019: "We do not meet or talk on phone frequently, but we are on good terms...He has dedicated his life to the welfare of the nation. We did not meet even when he came to Gandhinagar to seek the blessings of our mother after his swearing in last year. I am a shopkeeper. I do not enjoy any special rights or privileges being the prime minister’s sibling. Yes, as a protocol I have been provided security."

Prahlad also said he and the rest of the family has a health relationship with Modi's wife Jashodaben.

"Our family enjoys a healthy relationship with Narendra Modi’s wife Jashodaden who lives in Unjha with her brother. We meet her off and on," said Prahlad.

Despite his criticism of his brother's government and protests that he continues to hold, Prahlad remains a supporter and appreciates PM Modi. 

He told News-18 in May, "He is the son of India and also the guardian of India. People want more of him, he should remain in government for another 15 years. India is his family and India requires him."

(With PTI inputs)