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Get 'Gandhi' to lend credence to your stir! Thursday, October 4, 2001
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: At public agitation, school programmes, Congress party activities in the city, Gandhiji is making surprise appearances and regaling young and old with sermons and impromptu speeches.
Surprised? Don't be. This Gandhiji is a "double" of the Mahatma, one whose presence you can have if you're ready to donate anything between Rs 150 to Rs 500, provided the cause, or agitation, is just.
For 65-year-old Prakashbhai Modi too the appearances are as easy as donning that white dhoti, draping the characteristic sash over his slender shoulders and putting on those typical spectacles. The rest Modi leaves on his uncanny resemblance to the Mahatma to achieve.
"I carry my Gandhi get-up where ever I go and comply to people's wishes if I find their iterest or cause genuine enough," added Modi, sitting at his modest apartment in Ekta
Housing Society of Amraiwadi. From those days in 1942 when an eight-year-old Modi's desire to catch a glimpse of Mahatma Gandhi had him walk, along the railway tracks, from his village Mansa near Gandhinagar to Shapur in Ahmedabad (where Gandhiji was addressing a public meeting), Modi has indeed come a long way.
Today, he keeps a busy schedule making his quicksilver appearances in political and cultural functions, wowing his audience and sermonising Mahatma's thoughts into his own words. And, the trick is keeping his make-up keep handy and, of course, shaving his head to give that bald look on the first week of every month.
"It's my endeavour to take off from when Gandhiji left us. I want to realise his dreams of bringing swaraj to villages of India. Since I laid my eyes on Gandhiji, I could not concentrate on anything, not even my studies, and vowed to follow in his footsteps. I have followed his wish to serve villages and have devoted a lifetime in uplift of tribal-dominated villages of Sabarkantha district," said Modi.
Modi plans to be in the district on the 132nd Gandhi Jayanti on Tuesday. He says: "There have been many invitations from schools and cultural bodies of Sabarkantha to make appearances." And, so this Gandhi-apparition of Ahmedabad will be Sabarkantha, at least for the next couple of days.
"I never ask for money from my caller. But, most often than not they know of my modest background and donate on their own. The elder of my two sons had died leaving behind his wife and two sons while my younger son has a milk diary," confessed Modi. This apart Modi's income from his Gandhi-appearances is the only other financial support to a large family.
Despite being honoured by the President at the Rashtrapati Bhawan at the Red Fort on August 15, 1997, and having caught the fancy of politicians, both influential and small time, Modi complains of not getting any government support in his crusade to realise the Mahatma's dreams.
But, this Gandhi-double has not lost heart. He, as soon as the political turbulence in Gandhinagar calms down, wishes to approach the chief minister of Gujarat and ask for a piece of land in the state's capital to set up a Nav Jivan Gandhi Ashram, one that will of course have his photos as well as Gandhiji's side-by-side.
Modi told TNN, "In 1997 when India celebrated silver jubilee of Independence I had participated in a reconstruction of the historic Dandi March. Somewhere along the way I transformed into an image of Gandhiji, and realised my childhood dream. People, old and young, treated me with as much respect as they would have for Mahatma and then I had found the mission of my life -- to fulfil Mahatma's dreams. I am not an actor only a person who looks, thinks and feels like Mahatma Gandhi...
News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]