Lalu’s lacklustre first birthday out of power

June 11th, 2009 - 4:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, June 11 (IANS) Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, who is out of power after nearly two decades, turned 62 Thursday surrounded by family and leaders of his party but no government officials were present and the cake in the shape of a railway engine, which had become customary in the past five years, was also missing.
The former railways minister told reporters here that his wife, former chief minister Rabri Devi, and daughters had gifted him a bouquet of flowers. His grandchildren had also called from Singapore to wish him a happy birthday.

A mellowed Lalu Prasad warmly met all supporters who visited the decked up 10 Circular Road house, the official residence of Rabri Devi, and even cut a cake topped with candles but there was no fanfare.

“There was celebration but not like past since Laluji is no more in power” said a member of the former chief minister’s household staff.

Lalu Prasad and his party suffered a humiliating defeat in last month’s Lok Sabha elections. He managed to win from Saran but was beaten in Patliputra. The RJD won only four of the state’s 40 seats. In 2004, it had won 22 seats.

Recalling that his birthday has been celebrated publicly since he was chief minister in the early 1990s, Lalu Prasad said he wasn’t sure on which day he was born but June 11 was mentioned as his birth date on a school certificate.

“I don’t remember my birth date and am not sure whether June 11 is the exact birth date but as people celebrate the day, I too join them as a gesture of love,” he said.

When his party was in power in Bihar, his birthday had acquired political overtones with his supporters celebrating it as Communal Harmony Day. He used to cut a cake depicting a mosque, temple and church. Later, after becoming union railways minister, he began cutting a cake shaped like a railway engine.

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