MAN OF ELECTION

In January 1952, the newly shaping Indian government was to hold its first general election. Gulzarilal Nandaji was given a ticket to run for elections in the rural Sabarkantha constituency of northeastern Gujarat under the Bombay State by Morarji Desai of the Congress party. (Until 1960, the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra made up the one Bombay State.) His opposition was a popular independent candidate, the King of Idar, Maharaj Himmatsinhji (who had been ruling from 1931). Yogi Bapa looked to Dadubhai to fulfill Shastriji Maharaj's blessings and help Nandaji win the ministry position. (Election campaigning began on October 25, 1951.)

At first, Dadubhai responded that he would employ as much of his personnel and resources as were required to defeat the wealthy King of Idar. However, Yogi Bapa insisted that a victory would only be possible if Dadubhai himself committed to the election and remained in Sabarnkantha. Reminiscing Shastriji Maharaj's final words that "Yogi and I are one," Dadubhai left the growing business in the hands of Kantibhai and others, and agreed to personally back Nandaji until the election was won.

On December 5, 1951, Dadubhai and Rasikbhai (son of Dhanjibhai Khushalbhai Patel) left by car from Ahmedabad to go towards Himmatnagar which is about 40 miles away. 20 miles down the road, the car struck a pothole, and the rear tire came off the car. They waited until midnight, but not a single car passed by. Thus Dadubhai and Rasikbhai started walking to the nearest village which was four to five miles away. Two miles down the road, two well-known armed robbers, Manvoji and Khunoji, approached Dadubhai. But as Dadubhai remembered Shastriji Maharaj and Yogi Bapa, the robbers amazingly offered to help instead. The robbers suggested that there was no way to fix the wheel - they would have to go to Ahmedabad and bring the necessary equipment. When Dadubhai resumed praying, at about 2 am a truck stopped by the car, and took Dadubhai and Rasikbhai to Himmatnagar by the morning.

Nandaji, who had arrived at Himmatnagar earlier, was happy to see that Dadubhai arrived safely. He had been traveling for the election the past 4 days, and had gone to the birthplace of Gopalanand Swami in Todla.

Despite facing great hardships, Dadubhai faithfully endured to actualize Shastriji Maharaj's blessings and Yogi Bapa's command. The King of Idar engaged 35 cars to canvass the region - Dadubhai however saw that the solicitation had a minimal effect on the farmers who worked during the daytime in their farms. Dadubhai thus setup devotional song programs in the evenings in Himmatnagar with the help of Shankar Kaviraj. In the presence of Nandaji, Dadubhai had Shankar sing devotional songs such as "Nandanaa Laalaa re, taaro bharasho mane bhaare..." (O son of Nanda, Lord Krishna, I have strong faith in you). Dadubhai then explained to the prospective voters that while they had never seen the King of Idar, here was Nandaji in front of them, and was someone they personally knew and could trust to communicate their needs to the government in Delhi.

The next day, when Dadubhai, Rasikbhai, Shankar, and Ranchodbhai were on their way to Titoi (where a devotional songs program was to be held in the evening) from Himmatnagar, the car got stuck in the sand. Dadubhai found two bullocks from a farmer, had the car pulled out, and then switched to a jeep. As they went further along, they became lost in the jungles. And suddenly, they were confronted by a lion emerging out of the jungle. The driver panicked and drove for 2 miles, until the tire became punctured. Now they had to change the tire in the middle of the dense jungle. Dadubhai fearlessly left the car, laid some wood around it, and lit the wood on fire so that no animals would bother them. After changing the tire, they realized how far they had driven. By now, it was 3.30 in the morning, and everyone was cold, tired and hungry. With Dadubhai's prayer, a village was finally spotted ahead. A person from the village accompanied the group to Titoi, where they learned that after waiting till midnight, the 2000 people that had gathered, ended up leaving.

Instead of resting, the following day, Dadubhai along with Rasikbhai and Shankar, went to visit the Shyaamlaji temple, which was 10 miles from Titoi. (Shyaamlaji is the miraculous temple of Gopalanand Swami's youth.) They finally reached Todla, which was another 10 miles into the forest, during the evening aarti. There, Dadubhai was gifted with Gopalanand Swami's sanctified rosary. On the way back to Titoi, a tiger sprung in front of the car. When Rasikbhai turned the rosary, the tiger went back into the forest. That late evening at Titoi, there was another devotional songs program. The program ended at 2 in the morning, after which the group went to Nandubhai's place and had dinner.

The next morning, Dadubhai and the group returned to Himmatnagar. That very night, they went to Talod to meet up with Nandaji. Once, feeling uneasy, Nandaji even left the election meeting - but Dadubhai continued to gather support. In many areas, due to the opposition, the group was not given a place to sit, or even not allowed to conduct election meetings. Neither did the group get a proper place to spend the nights. (Mostly staying at dilapidated dharmashalas.) But Dadubhai faithfully toiled for Nandaji's cause.

In an attempt to impede the rising popularity of Nandaji, the sister of the King of Idar conspired a plan to kill Dadubhai. She joined the Congress party and invited Dadubhai to her home. She brought out two cups of tea, one of which she had poisoned. Of the two cups, the one filled to the brim was poisoned, but out of respect, Dadubhai picked up the cup that was not filled. The king's sister went back into the kitchen and fervently left the tea with thoughts of an alternate plan. In just a few minutes, a servant ran out from the kitchen exclaiming that the family cat had died because it had sipped some of the tea. Her plan to kill Dadubhai was unveiled and Dadubhai explained to her that victory was surely Nandaji's because all of the merits of the king were transferred to Nandaji's party!

Finally, on the night of January 15, a preliminary count showed that the King of Idar was ahead by 15,000 votes. Hearing this, Nandaji left unhappily for Ahmedabad and the King of Idar ordered pendas (sweets) in preparation for the next day's celebration. As Dadubhai and his election group stayed awake all night praying, the morning news came that Nandaji had in fact won by 22,374 votes! Of the 201,468 voters, Nandaji acquired 52.64% of the votes, Himmatsinhji 41.53%, and Suresh Desai (of the Socialist Party) 5.83%. Of the 489 seats in the Lok Sabha, the Indian National Congress won 364 seats.

After the elections, the King of Idar personally met Dadubhai and called him a "godly person of great faith." Dadubhai however replied that "I have done nothing, but it was all due to the grace of my master." Dadubhai then showed a letter from Yogi Bapa (that he often showed to Nandaji, and constantly kept with him) stating that "victory is on the side of the one who has the side of the saint."

NOTE: Many of the above facts were taken from the January 1952 Swaminarayan Prakash magazine.

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