V.P. Singh’s 77th birthday passes unnoticed

June 25th, 2008 - 10:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh celebrated his 77th birthday Wednesday at his bed at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital, without the political class queueing up to greet him with outsized cakes and bouquets. “Even when I was Uttar Pradesh chief minister, nobody knew about my birthday. A few came to know about it when I became prime minister,” Singh told IANS from his hospital bed.

Singh headed the National Front government at the centre between Dec 2, 1989 and Nov 10, 1990.

Singh was earlier this month admitted to the intensive care unit of the Bombay Hospital in Mumbai for heart and kidney problems. He was discharged June 13.

“He is now recovering at the Apollo Hospital,” said a staff member.

“There have been no big cars with bouquets. Only the poor have walked miles to wish me,”Singh told IANS about his birthday celebrations Wednesday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, even though in the midst of a political crisis, did not forget to send Singh a message wishing him on his birthday.

At his 1, Teen Murti Marg residence, slum dwellers turned up in large numbers, cut a cake, passed around bits of a 151-kg laddoo. Singh was not present but they did not let the occasion pass without a celebration.

“This has been a practice since 1993 when V.P. Singh started campaigning for the rights of slum dwellers,” said Vinod Singh, a staff member.

Singh has since then stepped aside from the glare of national politics and has taken up the cause of slum dwellers evicted by authorities for their illegal occupation of government and public land.

The former prime minister said he never belonged to that genre of political bigwigs who made their birthdays public events under the media spotlight.

“Even when I was prime minister, only my family celebrated my birthday,” Singh told IANS.

Only five days ago the nation was witness to a different kind of a birthday celebration.

Rahul Gandhi, general secretary of the Congress party and MP, was not in town. But mediapersons turned up in droves to capture images of his fans who filled the road outside the Congress party headquarters, playing drums, shouting slogans and bursting crackers to a deafening pitch.

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