He is 73 years old and gives sermons every evening to scores of disciples at one of the oldest temples in Uttar Pradesh’s holy town of Mathura.
But this holy man is unlike any other. Phakkad Baba, as he is popularly known, says he has fought in 15 state and general elections in the past four decades.
He has lost every time but says he is determined to file his nomination papers for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in a bid to push for his pet issue, a ban on cow slaughter.
Phakkad Baba – whose name means a pauper -- says he is a disciple of the Shankaracharya of Jagannath Puri and that he is complying with his guru’s directions by fighting the polls.
“I will emerge victorious in my 20th attempt, as predicted by my guru,” he says.
He has already raised the Rs 10,000 required as deposit money from his followers who finance him in every election and his proposers and approvers are also ready.
“I file my papers on the first day of nomination. This time also, I will do it on January 17 after offering prayers at Vishram Ghat of the Yamuna at 9 am,” he shares.
Improving the education system will also be a key focus if he wins the elections, he adds. His first electoral bout was in 1977, when a post-Emergency wave unseated the Congress.
“My best performance was in the 1991 general elections when Sakshi Maharaj, who is a BJP MP from Unnao at present, won from Mathura and I got 8000 votes,” claims the holy man.
Baba says he has six siblings and ran away from his home in the state’s Bithoor home at the age of 12 and reached Mathura.
“I was inclined to spiritualism and loved reading ‘Ramcharitmanas’. I travelled across Mathura and Vrindavan giving discourses before settling at Galteshwar temple in Mathura forty years ago,” says Phakkad Baba.
No one from his family has contacted him in all these years and he says his followers across Mathura gave him the name Phakkad Baba, he says.
The state goes to the polls in seven phases starting on February 11. The BJP and the Congress are up against regional rivals Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party to win India’s most populous state.