Monday, June 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Loyalists moved to tears
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Tohra (Patiala), June 29
In the autumn of his life, octogenarian leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra today returned to his native village for the first time after suffering from a serious heart problem one month ago to do his duty for his candidate in the panchayat election.

The veteran leader did not drive down to his residence but was the first to cast his vote at 8.30 in the morning. He then sat in a shop opposite the government school in which votes were being polled. Mr Tohra remained in the shop for a number of hours. He has been recuperating at the residence of his son-in-law at Patiala ever since he suffered a heart problem.

Mr Tohra had only a room cooler to provide some relief in the sweltering heat as well as the sympathy of the people of the village most of whom came to visit to him before casting their votes. The veteran leader did not appeal for votes to anyone with his gaze saying everything. The gaze was enough to unsettle many from the opposite camp who had come to visit him to ask about his health. His loyalists had tears in their faces seeing a sick Tohra doing duty outside the polling booth. An old man Gurdit Singh touched Mr Tohra’s feet saying “your coming has saved the village”. Mr Tohra’s only response was “raji han”?.

Many of the villagers also came to visit Mr Tohra after casting their votes. “ Bapu tvanu vote paa aayne han” was the common refrain amongst many of the people of the village which has seen the battle for the post of sarpanch becoming a personal battle between the veteran leader and party leader Rajinder Singh Tohra of the same village who is presently very close to Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, who is again from the same camp.

Mr Tohra tried to be philosophical about the turn of events which is seeing a fight for the post of sarpanch of the village after a gap of 32 years. “Votes are being polled in the village because some of our own people have resorted to opportunism and want to emerge as leaders”, he said.


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