Becharaji means the holy pilgrim centre of Goddess Bahuchara. Becharaji's holy land has produced many sons, social workers and patriots. On the occasion of 115th birth anniversary of one such son from this soil, freedom fighter and social worker Shri Prahladji Hargovandas Patel, we have got the opportunity to commemorate his virtues and that too amidst the sacred festival of Navratri and in the presence of Mother Bahuchara. And as we Indians are celebrating the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav', it is my extreme pleasure to commemorate a patriot like Prahladbhai.
Prahladbhai originally belonged to Sitapur village, but had come and settled in Becharaji. Prahladji had become famous in the entire state by the name of Seth Latiwala. It was as if he had come to this state as Krishna's 'Sanwaliya Seth' form and had served the society with a generous heart. Like many youngsters, Prahladbhai had become active in the freedom movement under Gandhiji's influence during the freedom struggle. He also was imprisoned in Sabarmati and Yerwada Jail. His father had died during one such imprisonment, but he had categorically refused to write an apology to the British government and be released on parole. His parents were cremated by his cousin brother. In this way, putting the interest of the nation ahead of the family, he had lived up to the idea of 'nation first'. In the war of independence, he was also involved in certain underground activities and had attempted to hide several fighters in Becharaji. After independence, he had played a vital role in the merger of small states of the country under the instructions of Sardar Sahib and had actively contributed in connecting the states like Dasada, Vanod and Zainabad with India. It is extremely disheartening that such patriots are hardly mentioned in the history books of the country.
It is the duty of all of us to ensure that the heroic saga of freedom fighters like Prahlad Bhai is told to the new generation who can seek inspiration from that. Even after the freedom struggle was over, in independent India, he did not rest; he remained engrossed in social work. In 1951, he had joined Vinoba Bhave's Bhoodan movement and had donated 200 bighas of land owned by him. This was a great step taken by one 'Bhoomi Putra' in the interest of several landless people. In 1962, in the first election of Gujarat, after it separated from Bombay state, he had fought from Chanasma seat and had become a public representative as well as a voice of the people. He took the entire state to the path of development. I still remember, I used to work for the Sangh at that time and had to go to different places for the same. And whenever people wanted to go to Becharaji, for them it was as if Prahladbhai’s Lathi itself had become the place of public welfare Prahladbhai, who worked in the spirit of trusteeship, was a link to the Mahajan tradition of Gujarat. And talking of Prahlad bhai, today's event will remain incomplete without mentioning his wife Kashi Ba. Kashi ba was not only an ideal housewife, but like Kasturba, she too had performed civic duties and provided her strong support to her husband. His whole life, work tradition, his desire to work in those conditions and every little thing is an invaluable document of the freedom struggle. His work and social contribution should be documented so that it provides new information to today's generation; and so, he would be an inspiration for the coming generation. During his lifetime, he was leading in public service, but even after his death, he resolved to donate his eyes. Just imagine, he took the decision of donating his eyes even in those days when there was no awareness about eye donation. How great and inspiring was this resolution!
All the universities of Gujarat should find such great men from every nook and corner of the state and compile their unknown, unsung stories and make them famous in the form of a book. That is when the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' will uphold its true meaning. Shri Prahladbhai was like a Triveni confluence of patriotism, spirit of devotion, duty & service. Today, think of his dedication and seek inspiration in the direction of building and further developing a New India. This will be a tribute to him in the true sense. I respectfully pay my obeisance to Prahladbhai and his excellent work. And in the presence of Mother Bahuchara, I conclude my speech by bowing down to Mother Bahuchara and those serving Mother Bharati.
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat!