Even an average MLA enjoys princely benefits. Elections are the time they usually see their bank balance swell. But Jethabhai Rathod, a former MLA of the Khedbrahma constituency, was an anomaly. Imagine someone being a member of the legislative assembly and a Below Poverty Line (BPL) cardholder.
Rathod, who set an example with clean governance and non-negotiable values during his stint as a public servant, died at the age of 86. In an age of vice and misery — Kali Yuga as it’s called — he remained a man of integrity, so much so that he depended on his BPL card for livelihood.
In Gujarat, Jethabhai Rathod’s successor, 92-year-old Veersinh Mohaniya, is also a BPL (below poverty line) card holder.
In his innate simplicity lay his greatness, which could be gauged by the way he campaigned for his elections on a bicycle. He would travel by ST bus to and from Gandhi Nagar.
Rathod, who lived in Tebda village in the Posina Taluka of Sabarkantha, had won the election as an independent candidate in 1967. The Swatantra Party won 66 seats in the immediate election to the legislative assembly. They were in office as legislators until 1971. He defeated a local Congress candidate by 17,000 votes.
In a certain context, he recalled the past when his friends and party members gave him Rs 30,000 for elections campaigns. After winning the election against the Congress candidate, the district panchayat chief gave him a kurta-pyjama set as a gift. Solving the water crisis in his area was one of his election promises.
His final rites were performed in the presence of the members of his family, including his five sons and four daughters.