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Wound that split hairs
- Tongues wag: Will vanquished Sena boss not put razor to beard till next poll'

Mumbai, Oct. 17: It will remain as long as the wound hurts.

As the Thackerays receded into the interiors of Matoshree yesterday after the crushing verdict at the counting, the question uppermost on the minds of observers was: 'What will happen to Bal Thackeray's beard now'

Thackeray, who started growing it on medical advice after a nick incurred while shaving, grew attached to his beard in more than one way as the Assembly elections drew close. A little before the polls, he declared that he would keep it till he won the elections.

The future of the beard ' and the body politic it is linked to, Maharashtra ' may still be shrouded in mystery, but there was some clarity today on its condition and an indication of its future.

'Jab tak zakhm rahega, woh rahega (The beard will stay till the wound heals),' said a Sena member. He added that Thackeray did not make a promise for nothing.

But does that mean that Thackeray will really let his hair down and grow his beard for five years' Or will he keep it black-and-white and precise, like it is now' Which conditioner does Thackeray use' Will there be elections before five years if it gets too prickly'

'Yeh zakhm woh zakhm nahin hai (This wound is not that wound),' said the party member. He said he was merely referring to the cut on his chin while shaving.

Informed sources, however, said Thackeray may have forgotten that cut altogether and is only nursing the deep gashes he suffered yesterday at the hustings. Even the BJP has gone down by only one seat, while the Sena has lost seven, three in Mumbai alone.

Since then Matoshree has been silent. Other Sena leaders have also been silent. A Sena spokesperson said the party should soon start introspecting on the reasons behind its failure. Asked what could be the main reason, he said it could be the 'sympathy factor' for Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who is suffering from ill health.

Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam added that the party will meet next week and go region-by-region, looking for reasons behind the defeat. This has led to the saying: 'A bearded tiger does not roar.'

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