The mega bash to celebrate the 76th birthday of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in his native Saifai village in Etawah failed to live up to the hype, with Bollywood stars such as Amitabh Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan and political heavyweights such as RJD chief Lalu Prasad and H D Deve Gowda staying away.
Senior UP minister and ruling party’s Muslim face Azam Khan too was conspicuous by his absence. Though Etawah district magistrate Nitin Bansal said Azam will be reaching the venue by 11 pm, he was yet to reach there at the time of going to press. Last year, it was Azam who had organised two-day long mega celebrations to mark Mulayam’s birthday in Rampur.
However, both Amar Singh and Jaya Prada, who were expelled from the SP for anti-party activities, were present at the indoor athletics stadium where Mulayam cut the cake around 9 pm. Nearly all UP ministers and senior bureaucrats from Lucknow occupied the VIP enclosure.
Mulayam’s extended family, including his sons, brothers and grandchildren, were present at the event which was organised by Ranveer Singh Smriti Saifai Mahotsav Samiti, headed by Badaun MP Dharmendra Yadav. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, too, remained present throughout the show.
During the cake cutting ceremony, Amar Singh was called on the stage to address the gathering. Amar addressed Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav, who was instrumental in him getting expelled from the SP. This was seen as an effort towards burying the acrimony between the two. Later, both Mulayam and Amar Singh, offered cake to each other.
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But the celebrations did not gather enough political stalwarts. Speculation that the event will help in meeting of non-BJP and non-Congress parties also fell flat. Local SP leaders claimed that Bihar poll victory of Grand Alliance and Yadav family abstaining from the swearing-in ceremony of Nitish Kumar had secluded SP in the political arena.