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Mumbai witnesses top political birthdays

December 12, 2010 19:15 IST

Mumbai on Sunday witnessed the birthday celebration of two political heavy weights – Nationalist Congress Party chief and Union Agriculture Minister  Sharad Pawar and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde.

For the NCP, which has been equally singed by the Adarsh scandal, the message for Pawar's celebration was loud and clear -- no extravaganza and no fan-fare. Pawar's party men celebrated his birthday by organising low-key social events.

For Pawar, his loyal party men had organised several functions in Mumbai and the suburbs on occasion of the Maratha strongman attaining 70 years of age.

In evening at NCP office at Nairman Point, a book containing Pawar's select speeches will be dedicated to the public.

Throughout the day his followers had organised medical camps including dental and eye check-up, blood donation camp, and fruit distribution at hospitals.

A gathering of party workers has also been organised at Thane, adjoining Mumbai. Tricycles were given away to handicapped persons by state NCP president Madhukar Pichad.

Pawar did not participate in any of the functions and was expected to have celebrated his birthday by inviting select friends from the business community.

The other 'birthday boy' Gopinath Munde, who still considers himself young, celebrated his 61st birthday rather reluctantly.

"If you think that by organising a celebration for completion of 60 years I would contemplate retiring then you are wrong. I will continue to strive for the welfare of the people and neither will I withdraw nor bend," he said stoically to visibly embarrassed party leaders who put up smiling faces.

Speaking at an elaborate function at Shanmukhananda Hall in Mumbai organised by the party, Munde received a warm welcome into 60 plus club.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani specially came to Mumbai only to felicitate Munde. Munde was showered with birthday greetings and blessings from politicians cutting across party lines.

Among the Congress leaders to be present for Munde's felicitation were former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Harshavardhan Patil and Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil.

From the NCP, Chhagan Bhujbal and Jayant Patil had also graced the occasion, while Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray arrived albeit late for the event.

Deshmukh praised Munde in his role as the opposition leader for being an able critic of the government and a person who refrained from making personal attacks.

"As a friend of Munde, the opposition leader, I had only one concession. I used to be forewarned the night before about the attack from the opposition in the assembly," said Deshmukh in a lighter vein.

N Ganesh in Mumbai