Rambhai Patel does not wear khadi. He has no political connection and has never contested an election. But, on May 16, Rambhai, a visually impaired retired telephone operator in Valsad achieved something that is the envy of seasoned politicians - he polled 27,429 votes as an Independent in the Lok Sabha elections.
Yet, fighting elections was not something Rambhai had dreamt of. "I wanted to teach politicians a lesson, show them that elections are not won by money, muscle and liquor power, but by good work and commitment to the people. I cannot see the world, but I decided to open the eyes of politicians who are blind to the ills plaguing our country," says 59-year-old Rambhai, who retired from the Valsad District Co-operative Bank last year.
Rambhai, who contested the Valsad seat, gave a tough fight to BJP's Dhiru Patel and Congress' Kishan Patel, who won by a margin of 7,169 votes, and keeping an age-old tradition alive -- whichever party wins Valsad seat, forms the government at the Centre.
People say it is social work that got him this astounding number. An honorary general secretary of the National Association for the Blind in Valsad district, has rehabilitated more than 600 blind boys and girls who are employed with various organizations across the country.
Rambhai says most of his votes came from tribal villages in Dharampur, Pardi, Vansda and Valsad town. It's in these areas where Rambhai has philanthropic work, helping tribal students and people in the field of education and health.
Rambhai, whose daughter is an engineer with an MNC in Mumbai and son studying in MS University in Vadodara, is upbeat about politics and is already planning to contest again in 2014. "People have reposed faith in me and I am happy," says Rambhai. Though he is being both by the Congress and BJP to join, Rambhai says he is happy keeping away from political parties.