Panaji: A public reception sans fanfare marked the 60th birthday of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar here today amid presence of senior ministers, even as the Congress accused top BJP brass of being “insensitive” towards the victims of Chennai floods.
Congress had sought cancellation of the event in view of the Chennai deluge.
Earlier in day, prominent BJP leaders led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished Parrikar on the occasion.
“Wishing Manohar Parrikar & @drharshvardhan on their birthday. They are admired for their simplicity & hardwork. I pray for their long life,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
Parrikar’s cabinet colleagues including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman also took to twitter to wish Parrikar.
Parrikar, former chief minister of Goa, celebrated the day with family and friends in morning at his private residence in Taleigao near here.
In the evening, a reception was held at Campal Ground here where about 50,000 people turned up.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, AYUSH Minister Sripad Naik, state chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar were present on the dais.
On the occasion, Parrikar remembered his wife Medha who passed away in 2001 following illness, a little before Parrikar became the Chief Minister of Goa for the first time.
“Who was supposed to be 55 (this year), she (Medha) left me at 40,” Parrikar said while referring to the Hindi song ‘Jab tum hoge saath saal ke’ which was played ahead of the beginning of the formal reception.
Parrikar said that people never allowed him to feel his wife’s absence. “I am at this position due to love given by people of Goa,” he added.
Hailing Parrikar, Gadkari said the former was following politics as an “instrument for bringing socio-political reforms”.
“He (Parrikar) has maintained the same profile in public life right from the day he entered politics till date,” said Gadkari.
The birthday bash had run into controversy with the Congress accusing the state government of using public money to organise the event. The CM had refuted the charge.
The event turned out to be simple one with only a pandal covering the ground to mark the programme. No cultural programme was held on the occasion.
Addressing the gathering comprising the BJP leaders and
workers, Parrikar hailed the role of defence forces during the Chennai deluge, saying the coordination between the Army and Air Force was commendable.
“When Chennai was receiving unprecedented rains, I coordinated and made sure that Army and Air Force rush there. The coordination was commendable,” Parrikar said.
Meanwhile, the Congress said the “grand” event shows the BJP’s “insensitivity” towards the victims of Chennai floods.
“Despite of all our requests to the BJP leadership both at the state and national level including the PM, the grand birthday bash was held in the city today.
“This proves the insensitivity of BJP leaders towards Chennai flood victims and those bravehearts who lost their lives protecting the country,” said Congress’ state unit spokesman Sunil Kawathankar.
“It seemed more like it was an desperate attempt of state BJP to reinstate the lost glory of their government and moreover to rebuild the loss of confidence amongst Goans in their leader Mr. Parrikar keeping in view the 2017 Assembly elections,” he added.