Dubai: He has Gujarati roots but that has not stopped Modi from being elected a Member of Parliament in the southern African country of Zimbabwe.
Mention the name Modi in India, and the first person that comes to anyone’s mind is the prime minister of that country, Narendra Modi.
Halfway across the world the name Modi refers to a politician — but not the one in India.
Rajesh Kumar Indukant Modi was elected Member of Parliament in Zimbabwe’s recent general elections, held a few weeks ago.
His victory was no small feat.
A Zimbabwean of Indian origin, businessman Modi was elected to a seat in the country’s second largest city of Bulawayo.
Modi became the first candidate of the Zanu-PF party in 18 years to win a parliamentary seat in the city, traditionally a bastion of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.
The daily Chronicle newspaper quoted Modi as saying he arrived in the country from India as a 22-year-old in 1981, after marrying wife Parul Kothari the same year.
While he had only come to see his wife’s country, Modi ended up settling there.
“Parul and I got married in India. We were supposed to come [to Zimbabwe] so that I had an appreciation of my wife’s country, but I ended up staying because something emotional happened, my father-in-law passed away,” he was quoted as saying.
He found a job and eventually opened his own supermarket.
Fast forward to 37 years later and Modi is a senior politician of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zimbabwe has a sizeable Indian-origin population and some members of the community have risen to the highest levels in the country’s political and legal spheres.
These include Hasu Patel, who served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, the late Senator Kantibhai Patel, who was declared a national hero by former president Robert Mugabe, and Bharat Patel and Ahmad Ebrahim who served as judges of the Supreme Court.