Vajpayee celebrates 84th birthday, PM calls on him

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New Delhi, Dec 25 (UNI) Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 84th birthday today brought home the point of his continuing popularity, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being among the first to greet him at his residence.

President Pratibha Patil had sent her greetings to the BJP patriarch, who was thronged by his admirers throughout the day at his house at 7, Krishna Menon Marg.

Mr Vajpayee's popularity knows no bounds among people, be they party workers, masses, BJP leaders or politicans from other parties.

The famed orator was known to be a people's Prime Minister and remains so even after retiring from the coveted post.

The birthday of the BJP veteran coincides with the swearing-in of firebrand Narendra Modi as the Gujarat Chief Minister, where many of the BJP leaders were present.

A large number of people poured into his house right from the wee hours to greet Mr Vajpayee with flowers and sweets.

Senior party L K Advani had called on him last evening to wish him as he had to go to Gandhinagar to attend the swearing in ceremony of Mr Modi.

Former Delhi Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur and Panthers Party Chief Bhim Singh also called on the leader, who is well known for his poetry and poetic skills.

Mr Vajpayee, who has not been keeping good health because of his old age, was presented with a 85-foot-long birthday card by a supporter.

Similarly, an 84-feet long garland was brought to him by a BJP delegation from Karnataka.

BJP's Maharashtra unit celebrated Mr Vajpayee's birthday as 'Gujarat Vijay Divas.' The leader, who is known to be a moderate voice in the BJP, carried out wide ranging economic reforms and many believe that the high growth rate the economy is experiencing is a result of these measures.

Mr Vajpayee made a mark with his diplomacy both as an External Affairs Minister and as the Prime Minister.

UNI

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