Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee celebrated his 82nd birthday on Monday amidst much bonhomie as his friends, followers and admirers from all walks of life surrounded him.
There was a steady stream of visitors at his residence since morning. The most prominent among them was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who greeted him with a bouquet and spent some time exchanging pleasantries with him.
Among others who thronged his residence at Krishna Menon Marg to greet him were his long-time associate and Leader of Opposition LK Advani and other BJP leaders like Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Arun Shourie and Najma Heptulla, besides a large number of party workers and schoolchildren.
In the evening, the BJP patriarch appeared to be enjoying himself thoroughly at a public function where his old friend Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat released a collection of his poems. The highlight of the evening was singer Anup Jalota who sang bhajans and even a couple of Vajpayee’s poems.
Releasing the publication Chuni Hui Kavitayen, Shekhawat told the audience that he was so profoundly inspired by one of Vajpayee’s poems Kaurav Kaun, Kaun Pandav that he always kept it on his desk.
While acknowledging his praise, the BJP patriarch suffered one of his by now famous temporary lapses of memory. He referred to Shekhawat as Jaswant Singh, another of his close friends and prominent BJP leader who too comes from Rajasthan like the vice president.
Shekhawat laughingly corrected him. Shortly afterwards, he committed another gaffe referring to the vice president as chief minister of Rajasthan, a position that he has held in the past when he was in the BJP.