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Cakes and candles as Lalu turns 61

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad celebrates his 61st birthday in style with a cake in the shape of the 'garib rath', his train for the poor, a cleanliness drive in the city and lunch for the poor.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Patna
UPDATED ON JUN 11, 2008 01:22 PM IST

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad celebrated his 61st birthday in style on Wednesday with a cake in the shape of the 'garib rath', his train for the poor, hundreds of supporters in attendance, a cleanliness drive in the city and lunch for the poor.

Like millions of Indians, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and former Bihar chief minister has said on many occasions that didn't know his exact date of birth. But his school certificate records June 11 as his birth date.

So that is the day celebrated as Lalu Prasad's birthday in a big way every year. Wednesday was no different for the minister as hundreds of supporters and leaders of his RJD gathered at the residence of his wife, leader of opposition in Bihar and former chief minister Rabri Devi.

Dressed in his usual white cotton kurta-payjama, Lalu Prasad blew out candles and then cut the large 'garib rath' cake, complete with engines and coaches, presented by his supporters to mark the turnaround in the Indian railways during his tenure as minister.

He shared the first piece of cake with his wife and other leaders before distributing sweets amongst the large gathering.

The day was also occasion for the party to organise a cleanliness drive in a predominantly dalit locality in the city.

"Lalu's birthday was celebrated with a difference this year to focus on creating awareness about cleanliness among the socially marginalised sections of society," said RJD MP from Patna Ram Kirpal Yadav.

Another leader, Shyam Rajak, added that the cleanliness drive would send the right message to the people, particularly the poorest of the poor.

A free lunch would also be organised for the poor to mark their chief's birthday.

When his party was in power, his supporters marked his birthday as communal harmony day.

Last year, Lalu Prasad was in New Delhi on the day, much to the disappointment of his supporters in Patna.

He was born in Phulwaria village in Gopalganj district and grew up as the son of a poor milkman. His parents, who did not own any land, lived in a thatched hut and struggled hard to earn a living.

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