President Pranab Mukherjee greets NCP chief Sharad Pawar during his 75th birthday celebrations at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Thursday. Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Pawar’s wife Pratibha Pawar were among those present at the dais
B B Yadav
dna
Making a tongue in cheek comment on the current logjam in Parliament during his 75th birthday celebrations, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said on Thursday that during his long stint in the country’s highest lawmaking body, he always respected the sanctity of the House and did not obstruct its functioning. “The problems of the people come to the fore when the House is in order, which is why its work should not be obstructed. It is the people’s expectations that the House functions and they have elected us for this very reason,” Pawar said during the grand celebration of his 75th birthday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pawar’s 75th birthday function saw a rare gathering of political foes and lawmakers across party lines with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, President Pranab Mukherjee, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and a few others sharing the dais. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, LK Advani, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Parkash Singh Badal and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury were the other senior politicians sharing the dais with Pawar. Also, in audience were Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.The NCP went all out to commemorate their supremo’s birthday that was interestingly celebrated at the Vigyan Bhavan, home to the most central government functions. NCP workers, leaders, legislators packed the venue and the who’s who of the industry, including Anil Ambani, Rahul Bajaj, Sunil Mittal, Gautam Adani, Cyrus Mistry and Subhash Chandra, chairman Essel group, and Vijay Mallya were also present on the occasion.Prime Minister Narendra Modi effusively praised Pawar’s efforts on controlling the underworld in Mumbai and in improving the country’s farm output. “As chief minister, Pawar was dynamic and I remember the times when Mumbai was in a vice-like grip of the underworld and it was a dark period. But Pawar did well to control this menace,” PM Modi said. He added, “As agriculture minister, Sharad Rao was extremely committed and worked in a mission mode. He used to visit me when I was chief minister of Gujarat and has pushed me to improve farm productivity,” the PM said.Congress president Sonia Gandhi laced her short speech with humour and candour on Pawar’s role as agriculture minister and on the differences between them. “We may have differences but our respect for each other has been constant. Although he (Pawar) parted ways with us, NCP has been our valued ally. When UPA came to power, Sharad Pawar was a natural choice, in fact he was the only choice for the post of agriculture minister,” she said. Gandhi went on to add, “His friendships across parties are legendary and in modern terms, his networking skills are great. This is what makes him a great politician through and through, which is a compliment.”During the function, President Pranab Mukherjee released three books on Pawar, including a semi-autobiographical account of his life and a coffee table book. Speaking extempore, Mukherjee said, “Pawarji was offered the defence portfolio when UPA came to power but he turned it down and insisted on getting the agriculture portfolio. That decision has proved to be good for the country. His birthday has given us this rare opportunity to come together from a cross-section and all I can say is ‘Salaam Pawar saheb’.”

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Big leaders shower praise on Pawar at his 75th birthday celebrations