Debating India


Leaders, children greet Vajpayee

Tuesday 26 December 2006

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and school children on Monday wished the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a long life as the BJP patriarch turned 82.

Dr. Singh reached the Krishna Menon Marg residence of Mr. Vajpayee and presented him a bouquet of flowers.

He also remained closeted with his predecessor for about five minutes. Later Mr. Vajpayee came out to see off the Prime Minister.

Early callers

Among others to reach early and congratulate Mr. Vajpayee were the former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, the former National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra and the former Law Minister, Arun Jaitley.

BJP president Rajnath Singh and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan also met Mr. Vajpayee and wished him well. To a query on whether the BJP leaders will return the gesture and wish Congress leaders, including its president Sonia Gandhi, on such occasions, Mr. Jaitley replied in the affirmative.

"Good trend"

He said that it (Dr. Singh’s visit) was a good trend and nobody had any personal agenda against any leader. The former BJP leader, Madan Lal Khurana, who was expelled from the party on disciplinary grounds earlier this year, also came to Mr. Vajpayee’s residence to greet him.

Earlier, Mr. Vajpayee cut the birthday cake in the presence of his family and later met party leaders and supporters who had gathered on the lawns. A group of school children presented the former Prime Minister a portrait of his.

"Perfect" birthday gift

It was a "perfect" birthday gift for a poet. A compilation of Mr. Vajpayee’s poems, titled "Chuni Hui Kavitain - Atal Bihari Vajpayee" (Select Poems - Atal Bihari Vajpayee) was released at a function at the FICCI Auditorium here on Monday as part of his birthday celebrations.

"Can there be any better birthday gift than this for a poet? I am glad that my old poems written many years ago have been published all over again. It is a perfect gift," he said after the release."This time round the poems are accompanied by pictures also. So every page has a poem and a picture. If you do not like the poem, you can see the picture. And if you do not like the picture, you can read the poem. If you like neither, then `gustakhi maaf’ [my apologies]," he said after reading out one poem as the audience burst into laughter.

Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who released the book, a collection of 35 poems, said in jest: "I have released Mr. Vajpayee’s book earlier also. I do not know why they always invite someone who is unable to write a single verse himself to release a compilation of poems."

See online : The Hindu

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