PM Modi recounts self-discovery solo jungle trips

NEW DELHI, JAN 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed he used to spend days "reflecting" alone in the jungle, in a new interview seeking to burnish his religious credentials as tough elections loom.

Modi, who secured a landslide poll victory in 2014, has long touted his remarkable backstory that saw him rise from humble origins as the son of a tea seller to become the PM of India. 

PM Modi shared further details of his hardscrabble life on Tuesday, telling the popular Humans of Bombay Facebook page that he regularly left home to seek solitude during Diwali.

"Not many people know this, but I would go away for the five days... somewhere in a jungle," Modi said.

"I would pack enough food to last for those five days. I would reflect... People often asked me, 'Who are you going to meet?' And I would say, 'To meet myself'."

The Prime Minister also spoke candidly about his early life, saying he grew up with "a great need to look sharp and groomed" despite his family's meagre earnings.

"Even though we couldn't afford an iron, I would heat some coal, use an old 'lota' (rounded vessel)... This was the beginning of everything that I am today and I didn't even knew it at the time," he said.

Modi has used his simple origins to contrast himself with Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has dominated the country's politics for decades, who is leading a resurgent opposition to Lok Sabha polls expected by May.

The Prime Minister has been a champion of Indian culture, last year publicising the yoga exercises he said were key to his fitness regimen.

But Tuesday's interview drew a mixed reaction from readers, with praise for Modi's "inspiring" story tempered by critics. 


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