The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ailing Thakre gives pep pill to party

Bhopal, Sept. 7: The ailing patriarch is turning out to be a miracle man.

At 81, Kushabhau Thakre is doing his best for the BJP to bring back a disgruntled Yashodhara Raje Scindia and ensure unity among warring party factions in view of the coming Assembly elections.

Thakre may be suffering from a terminal illness, but that is not deterring him from performing his “duty”. From morning to evening, he is busy meeting party activists of all hues and shades here, giving useful tips to all those who care to listen.

The results are showing. Yashodhara is claiming that she had never quit the party. She is also ready to contest the elections from a constituency of the BJP’s choice. The remarks are in sharp contrast to her angry missives sent a month ago.

Yashodhara does not talk about the BJP’s chief ministerial aspirant, Uma Bharti, and the sadhvi is also keeping mum on the princess. But others like state BJP chief Kailash Joshi and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Babulal Gaur are airing their views. Joshi said Yashodhara has met him and “misunderstandings” have been cleared.

Gaur was more direct in taking a dig at both Yashodhara and Bharti. “She had never left us. Where will she go'” he asked, referring to the Congress’ refusal to draft the Scindia scion after her nephew Jyotiraditya bluntly told AICC top bosses that there was place for “only one Scindia in the Congress”.

Gaur, who does not get along well with Bharti, went a step further. “You know these women. They all have a bit of attitude problem,” he said, indicating that Yashodhara’s move to quit had more to do with her differences with Bharti and her flock.

Unmindful of the internal bickering, Thakre is going ahead with his role as peacemaker. He told known Bharti-baiter and Union minister Vikram Verma to mend fences with her and persuaded Bharti to accommodate some of Verma’s loyalists in the poll preparations. A similar directive was given to Gaur.

Thakre has also succeeded in weaning away former Union minister Arif Beg from the Congress. Beg was one of the founder members of the BJP but left it in 1998. Though his return may not fetch the BJP Muslim votes, the “homecoming” is being seen as a morale booster.

Bharti said Thakre was keen to tour the state to garner support for the BJP, but a failing health was taking its toll. The BJP think-tank has decided to bring as many district and state-level leaders and influential workers to Bhopal as possible for “one-on-one meetings” with Thakre.

A senior BJP functionary summed up: “The move is working fine. Thakre, as a father figure, has a lot to give and generally, workers listen to him respectfully. The unity theme is showing at the ground level.”

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