Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch A B Vajpayee on Monday celebrated his 82nd birthday as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set aside political differences to call on him and greet him on the occasion.
Dr Singh, who drove to the former prime minister's 6-Krishna Menon Marg residence in New Delhi on Monday morning, greeted him by presenting a bouquet. Both the leaders were closeted for about five minutes and Vajpayee also came out to see off Dr Singh.
Leader of Opposition L K Advani also visited the party stalwart and greeted him as scores of BJP supporters thronged the residence to greet him on his birthday. The BJP leaders who visited him on the occasion included Rajnath Singh, Arun Shourie, Arun Jaitley, Najma Heptula, Sahib Singh Verma and Shivraj Singh Chowhan.
Former Union Minister Sahib Singh Verma told reporters that the party wants Vajpayee to continue the role of 'margdarshak (guide).'
"The party wants Vajpayee to continue in the role of margdarshak. When the turn comes (we come in power) either Vajpayee or his nominee will be the prime minister," he said.
Arun Jaitley described prime minister visiting Vajpayee as a good tradition. "This is a good trend. We are all political opponents, but we want each other's best," he said.
Asked whether BJP leaders will carry forward this tradition and wish Congress leaders, including its president Sonia Gandhi on such occasions, Jaitley promptly said: "Yes why not? I do not think anybody has any personal agenda against any leader."
BJP leader Najma Heptula also described prime minister's visit as a sign of 'healthy politics.'
"Everybody respects Atalji. It is a sign of healthy politics that prime minister came and greeted him on the occasion," she told media persons, adding: "When in politics we do not become enemies of each other."Expelled party leader Madan Lal Khurana also visited Vajpayee and wished him on the occasion. The residence of Vajpayee wore a decorative look on the occasion. Vajpayee came to the lawn around 1200 hours where he met party workers and leaders. Students of various schools also came to offer their wishes to the former premier.