Saifai (UP), Nov 21: For people of Saifai, the native village of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, it is like Diwali all over again. Decked out in flowers and lights, buildings are wearing a bridal look for the celebration tomorrow of the 76th birthday of Mulayam, popularly known by the sobriquet of "netaji".
A cultural extravaganza, including a performance by Oscar- winning composer AR Rahman and his 300-member troupe, has been lined up as part of the three-day bash, which got off to a colourful start yesterday at Saifai, around 200km from state capital Lucknow.
This will be Rahman's maiden performance in Saifai. Massive fireworks lit up the night sky as people made a beeline for the village to wish their leader a long life and pray for his good health. "Netaji's ties with Saifai are emotional.
He is a father figure, our godfather," said Mahesh Yadav, an enthusiastic youth worker who was busy organising the grand show. Arrangements have been made to shower rose petals on the SP supremo when he lands at the airstrip outside Saifai, where large-sized LED screens have been set up at vantage points to telecast live the razzmatazz birthday party.
A 76-kg cake has been ordered to mark the occasion 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 Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, and from Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan to business tycoons.