The 82-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 Capitals All-India Institute of Medical Sciences at 8am.
Thakre, who became the BJP president in 1998 a few months after it strode to power, was known for his organisational skills and was credited with building up the party in his home state of Madhya Pradesh.
Hearing about Thakres demise, vice-president BS Shekhawat rushed to the hospital and offered floral tributes. Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, deputy prime minister LK Advani along with a host of senior BJP leaders paid their last respects to the departed leader at the party headquarters where his mortal remains, wrapped in party flag, was kept before being flown by a special aircraft to Bhopal for last rites on Monday.
Condoling Thakres death, President APJ Abdul Kalam in a letter to his brother Jayant Thakre said he (Kushabhau) was a prominent political leader who was well-known for his work during his many years in public life.
Thakre, who began his political life as RSS pracharak rose to occupy various positions in the erstwhile Jan Sangh and then BJP before he became its vice-president and then its president in 1998 when the party came to power for the first time at the Centre. He was succeeded by Bangaru Laxman who became the BJP president in 2000.
Thakre steered the party at a crucial time when it had to keep its pet Hindutva issue on the backburner to forge a rainbow coalition.
During his tenure he brought amendment to party constitution by which presidency was restricted to an incumbent for two terms of two years each after which there should be a break.
Born on August 15, 1922 in Dhar in MP, Thakre was one the founder members of the erstwhile Jan Sangh and was associated with the RSS since 1942. He was jailed for 19 months during the Emergency.
Condoling his death, party president Venkaiah Naidu described him as a real karma yogi, ideal party worker and an inspiration to lakhs of party workers around the country.