Mulayam b'day bash: AR Rahman performs, Lalu conspicuous by absence

Saifai (UP), Nov 21: Master composer-singer A R Rahman tonight performed on the second day of the three-day bash to celebrate the 76th birthday of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav but RJD chief Lalu Yadav was conspicuous by his absence.

With rumour doing the rounds that Lalu skipped today's programme in the wake of Yadav not attending the swearing-in ceremony of the Nitish Kumar Cabinet yesterday, SP leaders including MP and Yadav's daughter-in-law Dimple played down the issue.

Mulayam b'day bash: Rahman performs

Singer Hariharan also joined Rahman later on. Besides Mulayam's family, others who attended the event included Amar Singh.

A 76-kg cake has been ordered to mark the occasion tomorrow while mouth-watering Italian, Chinese and Thai dishes will be prepared by renowned chefs from Delhi and Mumbai to treat around one lakh guests from a wide spectrum of the society.

The guest list includes almost everybody who is somebody -- from former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda to Lalu, and from Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan to business tycoons. It was not immediately known whether Lalu will attend the function on Sunday.

The three-day bash got off to a colourful start yesterday at Saifai, around 200km from state capital Lucknow. "Lalu Prasad was supposed to come, but he didn't turn up," said a party leader.

The indoor athletic stadium, where the main function will be held, has been decked out in the SP colours of green and red while hundreds of welcome gates and huge hoardings have come up on all the roads leading to Saifai.

Around 3,000 staff have been tasked with ensuring cleanliness while an equal number of security personnel from 15 districts have been deployed in and around the venue. Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan had last year organised a two-day celebration in Rampur to mark Mulayam's 75th birthday.

Mulayam had ridden on an imported Victorian-style 'buggy' for the Rampur bash, which had seen around 40 ministers gathering to take part in the costly festivities, fuelling criticism that was met with a caustic barb from Khan that Taliban and Dawood Ibrahim had provided funds for the event.


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