For years, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi maintained a low profile on his birthday. There were no celebrations, public events or felicitations. This year it was different. After all, his 64th birthday came just days after being named the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Modi began the day by seeking blessings of his 95-year-old mother Hiraba. The chief minister arrived at his younger brother Pankaj Modi’s house in Gandhinagar, where his mother lives, without the usual NSG cover. After spending about half an hour with his mother, who gifted him a “Bhagwat Gita,” Modi came out to address the media.
“I have got blessings from across the country and I know for sure that these blessings won’t go waste,’’ he said.
Drawing a reference to Vishwakarma Divas, Modi said: “Shram-eva Jayate (only labour prevails)...the day marks dignity of labour.”
Later, he visited former chief minister and his critic Keshubhai Patel to seek his blessings. Birthday greetings poured in from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, singer Lata Mangeshkar and BJP stalwarts like Rajnath Singh, L K Advani, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu, besides the party’s senior office-bearers and leaders of Indian communities and overseas organisations.
Modi’s birthday was celebrated with pomp across the state. While an “aarti” was organised at the Ahmedabad Jagannath temple, Muslims in the Jamalpur area in the old city baked a 64-kg cake.
The BJP also launched a membership drive targeting the Muslims. In fact, all cells of the state BJP unit have been asked to conduct intensive membership drives and enrol at least one lakh people each during the weeklong initiative, which would culminate with the birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.
Modi was also felicitated at a programme in Gandhinagar. Addressing the people there, Modi said: “2014 is the first election that the common man is eagerly waiting for. It is like praying for monsoon after a scorching summer. Never before has there been so much hatred for a government.”