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After 9 wins in 50 yrs, Gaur up for last hurrah

Ranjan, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, November 14, 2013
First Published: 23:10 IST(14/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:00 IST(15/11/2013)

Eighty-three is not too late in the age-no-bar field of Indian politics. But Babulal Gaur’s moment in the sun is perhaps over for good.

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In a political career spanning over five decades, it lasted a meagre 15 months, when Gaur occupied the chief minister’s chair in Madhya Pradesh. And what undid him — and his mentor Uma Bharti — was the rising sun of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

For the believer, there was perhaps an element of karma too. Party insiders say Gaur had played Bharti false.

With a warrant in her name in the Hubli riots case, Bharti had handpicked Gaur to keep the CM’s chair warm when she decided to step down in 2004. And to seal the deal, she had apparently made him swear that he would move out once her name was cleared. But Gaur reneged — with the full backing of BJP seniors.

Gaur had never been forthcoming on the issue. But he freely admits that fate catapulted him to the top job.

After all, nine consecutive assembly polls victories, the chief minister’s badge and umpteen ministers’ tag would have been a pipe dream for a lad starting out in his dad’s liquor store and going on to become a mill hand.

It was fate too that helped him come in contact with the RSS at age 16. Soon after, he persuaded his mother to sell the liquor shop, got a law degree and joined politics.

As a member of the Jan Sangh, he earned a name during the JP movement, becoming at length JP’s first candidate in the 1974 by-polls. Gaur had never looked back. But long before he faced his 10th election — came his quick fall from grace. He had to face sexual harassment charges from a Muslim woman.

Today, there is some bickering about his handling the urban and administration development portfolio. But Gaur is undaunted.

Would he become the CM again? “It would be the party’s decision,” Gaur smiles. He is just clear about one thing:  This will be the last election he would contest.

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