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Cong in charity mode on Sonia's b'day

Congress activists distribute sewing machines to poor women, blankets and sweets to slum children.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2006 12:52 IST

From distributing sewing machines to poor women, blankets and sweets to slum children, organising blood donation camps and conducting massive rallies - Congress activists across the country were in charity mode for party chief Sonia Gandhi's birthday on Saturday.

Large and colourful pictures of a smiling Gandhi flashed in all major dailies - Hindi, English and vernacular - with Congressmen vying with each other to show their loyalty to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson, who turned 60.

Senior leaders including ministers, MPs, legislators and state unit chief lined up in front of her 10 Janpath residence with huge bouquets even as other party men from different parts of the country, who have landed in national capital just to celebrate their leader's birthday, were dancing and distributing sweets outside.

Many party MPs, who otherwise leave for their home constituency at the weekends, have stayed back to greet Gandhi.

Apart from central Congress party, Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation GK Vasan, Tamil Nadu state chief M Krishnaswami, state leader M Najimudeen, Karnataka chief M Mallikarjun Kharge, Haryana minister Birender Singh and Delhi unit have given separate advertisements on newspapers to flaunt their loyalty.

Another Congress veteran from Tamil Nadu Era Anbarasu and his son Arul Anbarasu, a state legislator, went to the extent of releasing a music CD - in which there were seven songs, written by Anbarasu himself in the tunes of popular Bollywood music.

According to Anmbarasu, the songs in the CD, which was released at party headquarters here, could "extensively" be used for Congress party's election campaign in future. "We have successfully used artists, drama and music to gather votes in south. The party can use this in Uttar Pradesh elections," Anbarasu said.

The Mahila Congress unit in Delhi organised sewing machines for poor women, while in Madhya Pradesh, they collected blankets and sweets for the poor in slums. "Each district units have been asked to distribute blankets and sweets for the slum dwellers," Madhya Pradesh Mahila Congress chief Shobha Oza said.

The Congress chief born in the town of Orbassano, Italy in 1946 and married former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1968. Although initially reluctant to join politics, she became Congress chief in 1998.

In the previous years, Gandhi had given strict instructions to her party colleagues that she did not want any celebration on her birthday. She had also written to all senior leaders that she would not accept any birthday gifts.