Senior leaders and workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gathered at the home of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 84th birthday in New Delhi on Thursday, though the usual bustle was missing, as Vajpayee has decided not to celebrate his birthday, as a mark of tribute to the victims of the Mumbai terror attack.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, senior party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Kalraj Mishra and Janata Dal-United MP and newly appointed convener of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Sharad Yadav were among those who went to Vajpayee's home and greeted him, a party official told IANS.
"As a mark of tribute to the victims of terror attack in Mumbai, former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee has decided not to celebrate his birthday at his residence on December 25," a statement issued by his office had said on Monday.
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: "The decision has been taken by Vajpayeeji to show sympathy to the victims of Mumbai terror attack and also as a mark of protest against terror attacks not only in Mumbai but in other parts of the country as well."
Vajpayee, who has been prime minister thrice, has not been keeping well and has been largely confined to his wheelchair following knee problems.
The BJP veteran's first stint as prime minister in 1996 ended after 13 days when the party failed to garner enough support to prove majority.
During his second stint (1998-1999) Vajpayee had to resign after 13 months because of the withdrawal of AIADMK, a coalition partner of the then-ruling NDA.
During his third term (1999-2004), Vajpyaee headed the BJP-led NDA government that completed its full term.