A host of Congress Chief Ministers, MPs and top office-bearers of the party on Wednesday morning lined up at 10, Janpath to wish Sonia Gandhi on her 69th birthday. It was a massive show of support at a time when the National Herald case has returned to haunt her as well as her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
While the leaders streamed in with bouquets, flowers and sweets, folk artists from states like Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh — brought to Delhi by enthusiastic local Congress leaders from the respective states — danced to drum beats outside the Congress president’s residence.
Congress leaders who met Sonia said she appeared cheerful, posing for photographs with workers, signing autographs and even allowing some people to apply tilak on her forehead. Leaders said she did not speak much except for accepting wishes.
Amid the war of words between the government and the Congress, PM Narendra Modi sent Sonia a bouquet as also a letter wishing her. “On her birthday, greetings to Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi. May Almighty bless her with long life & good health,” the Prime Minister tweeted. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu called her to wish her.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari also greeted her over phone. “During your long span of public life, you have rendered immense service to the country. You have made stellar contributions to all aspects of public life… May the Almighty bless you with good health, happiness and many more years of dedicated service to the nation,” Mukherjee said.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee drove to 10, Janpath to wish Sonia. NCP chief Sharad Pawar met her along with daughter Supriya Sule and senior party leader Praful Patel. Many top leaders, including RJD chief Lalu Prasad and BSP chief Mayawati, called her.