Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had a power-packed 60th birthday celebration here on Saturday, showcasing his influence across the political spectrum and the respect he commands within his Bharatiya Janata Party. The highlights of the daylong celebrations which started this morning included the release of his biography by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, followed by the inauguration of a vocational college named after him, cutting a massive 60-kg cake arranged by BJP and unveiling of a life-size wax statue in the evening. The day started for Gadkari with prayers and a small private celebration at home, led by his wife Kanchan, sons Nikhil and Sarang and their spouses Rutuja and Madhura, daughter Ketki and her husband Aditya Kashedikar, a host of grandchildren and other relatives wishing and felicitating him.
The cake-cutting ceremony later was held amid thunderous applause and blessings to the leader as the former BJP national and state President, businessman-lawyer-politician sliced through the massive cake. In the afternoon, thousands of BJP activists from across Maharashtra queued up for the celebrations organised by the party for the leader who started as an ordinary grassroots worker 40 years ago and attained dizzying heights . Gadkari was presented a purse of Rs 1.01 crore comprising contributions from all BJP MPs and MLAs in state which will be donated to 100 charitable organisations.
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At the main celebratory function late on Saturday evening, several bigwigs, Nationalist Congress President Sharad Pawar, senior Congress leaders and former Chief Ministers Narayan Rane and Sushilkumar Shinde were in attendance. Other prominent personalities who joined the birthday-bash included Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Kumar, several central leaders including Republican Party of India-A President and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale and Union Minister Vijay Goel.
Several speakers including Fadnavis and Shinde lauded Gadkari’s contributions as a politician who always kept Nagpur, Vidarbha and Maharashtra as his focus in whatever positions he held at various levels in the party and government, and his concern about the poor and the farmers. However, BJP President Amit Shah, who was expected to attend and address the event, dropped out at the last minute. Besides the VVIPs, more than 50,000 people from Nagpur and rest of Maharashtra were regaled at a musical extravaganza by well-known playback singers Sudesh Bhonsle and Vaishali Samant earlier this evening.
This evening, well-known sculptor Sunil Kandalloor of Celebrity Wax Museum in Lonavala (Pune district), unveiled a life-size wax statue of Gadkari.,The model shows Gadkari reclining on a sofa with his typical smile, sporting a light-coloured checked suit, white shirt and dark pants – all donated by him – prepared in a record time for the birthday deadline, according to Kandalloor. The statue will soon go on permanent display at the Lonavala museum. Scores of other sideline events like cultural programmes for youth, health camps for police personnel, blood donation drives and a clean-up of the Sonegaon Lake in the city has been undertaken by party activists as a run-up to the main celebrations.