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Kushabhau Thakre dead
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
Sangh Parivar stalwart and former BJP President Kushabhau Thakre, who steered the party during its initial years in power at the Centre, died here this morning following prolonged illness.

Eightytwo-year-old Thakre, a bachelor who began his political career as an RSS pracharak in 1942 at Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh, was suffering from cancer which had spread all over the body and died at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences here at 8 am.

The passing away of Thakre today was mourned by President APJ Abdul Kalam, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Primer Minister L.K. Advani who recalled his “selfless” services to the nation, his simplicity, humility and high moral values.

Mr Shekhawat, Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani will attend his funeral in Bhopal tomorrow.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharati had spoken to Mr Advani and personally requested that the cremation of the deceased leader take place in Bhopal.

The ailing leader had disregarded the advice of his doctors and gone to Bhopal to attend the swearing-in of Ms Bharati as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh earlier this month.

In a condolence message sent to Thakre’s brother, Mr Jayanat Thakre, the President said the former BJP President was a prominent political leader who was well-known for his work during his many years in public life.

The Vice-President said in a separate message the way Thakre served the nation throughout his life with great commitment would always remain a source of inspiration for all.

Expressing similar sentiments, the Prime Minister recalled his long association with him and said Thakre devoted his entire life first for the country’s independence struggle and later for its development. “He devoted all his efforts and energies for the good of the nation.”

Mr Advani, describing him as an eminent leader, who had contributed a lot to the country, compared him with Jan Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhayaya.

“He was an outstanding leader of the party, who had helped it to grow from the grassroots...his loss has created a huge void that will be difficult to fill, the Deputy Prime Minister added.

BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu said he was an ideal political worker who inspired the working class in the country.

He led an ideal life and was totally dedicated to the cause of the party and its ideology and the nation, Mr Naidu said.

Thakre’s body was taken to the BJP office in the afternoon to enable people to pay their last respects.

Born in a middle class family in Dhar of Madhya Pradesh on August 15, 1922, Thakre remained a bachelor all his life. He had his primary education at Dhar before he moved to Indore and later to Gwalior for higher studies.

After joining the RSS in Neemuch, he became a pracharak in 1942 at the age of 20. He then moved to the Ratlam division of the RSS comprising Ratlam, Mandsaur, Jhabua, Chittaur, Kota, Bundi, Jhalawad, Banswada (Rajasthan) and Dahod (Gujarat). He later shifted to the Ujjain division.

Establishing himself as a ‘sanghathak’ from his youth, Thakre was one of the founder members of the erstwhile Jan Sangh and was popularly known as the ‘Pitri Purush’ of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.

Thakre protested against the imposition of the Emergency in 1975 and had also been jailed for 20 months.

He became Secretary (Organisation) of the Jan Sangh in Madhya Pradesh since its inception in 1956 and became the all-India Secretary of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1967, holding charge of Gujarat, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, a post which he held till 1984. He served as party vice-president from 1984 to 1986 and 1991 to 1993 and was the all-India general secretary and in charge of Madhya Pradesh from 1986 to 1991.

From 1993 to 1998, Thakre was the general secretary (organisation) and in charge of Madhya Pradesh and in 1998 took over as party president for two years, becoming the second RSS pracharak to hold the top post — the other being Deen Dayal Upadhayaya in the sixties.

Despite his ill-health, he took an active part in campaigning during the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh — a measure of his dedication to his party ideals.

“I am just an instrument, a small worker of the party”, he had said on his elevation to the post of party President. His views about the BJP assuming power at the Centre were also equally modest. “Our end is to ensure that the problems of the people are resolved. Power is merely an instrument that people have given us to help achieve this objective.”

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