New Delhi: It was a quiet 85th birthday Friday for former prime minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has not been seen in public for over a year. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among those who visited him.
Manmohan Singh reached Vajpayee`s residence at Krishna Menon Marg to wish him a happy birthday. Other senior BJP leaders also greeted him.
"Vajpayeeji will not be meeting all the people as he is not well," said an official at his residence. He has been unwell for some time now.
"Several functions have been organised to pray for the better health of Vajpayeeji. We hope he will get well soon and guide us," a BJP spokesman said.
BJP cadres in Lucknow, which Vajpayee represented for five consecutive terms in the Lok Sabha, distributed fruits to patients in various hospitals and khichdi to the poor to mark their leader`s birthday, a party official said.
"We are observing the birthday of our great leader in the same manner across Uttar Pradesh," BJP spokesperson HN Dixit told reporters.
"To pray for the longevity of our beloved leader, we have also organised the recitation of Sunderakand at several temples in Lucknow," he added.
At least 50 hoardings bearing massive pictures of Vajpayee were set up in several places in Lucknow. The hoardings read in Sanskrit: "May you live for 100 years."
"The hoardings to greet Vajpayee were being put up till Thursday night," said a party functionary.
BJP activists also lit earthen diyas at the Sandohan Devi Temple in Lucknow`s Chowk locality.
Vajpayee was born into the family of a school teacher Dec 25, 1924 in Gwalior. As a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, he rose to become Prime Minister and held the post thrice.
A veteran parliamentarian, Vajpayee`s political career stretches over four decades.