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The Curious Case of Birthday Cake and Indian Politics

There’s a birthday party tomorrow, and there’s going to be a lot of cake. As Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo Karunanidhi turns 94, opposition leaders from all over the country are set to descend to the massive YMCA ground in Chennai to wish the veteran a long and healthy life.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18pallavighcnnibn

Updated:June 2, 2017, 1:39 PM IST
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The Curious Case of Birthday Cake and Indian Politics
File photo of DMK chief M Karunanidhi. (PTI)

New Delhi: There’s a birthday party on Saturday, and there’s going to be a lot of cake. As Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo Karunanidhi turns 94, opposition leaders from all over the country are set to descend to the massive YMCA ground in Chennai to wish the veteran a long and healthy life.

The icing on the cake, however, is the fact that the opposition is finally coming together, three years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power with historic mandate. The opposition has time and again tried to put up a united front against the Modi juggernaut, but has inadvertently failed in its attempts. Even last week, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi tried to bring together fellow opposition leaders but failed to a certain extent as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar snubbed her. Instead, he chose to have lunch with PM Modi the very next day.

Now all eyes are on Karunanidhi’s birthday party and it remains to be seen which opposition leader will get biggest slice of the cake. The BJP is definitely not the one getting it as Karunanidhi’s son Stalin has categorically announced that no saffron leader is welcome. “Let this be a turning point in national politics,” Stalin had said.

And indeed, the birthday party is expected to be a show of strength. With a bevy of leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Lalu Yadav, Omar Abdullah, Derek O’ Brien, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, as part of the invitees, the opposition hopes to bond at the party and come alive, stronger. DMK, on its part, wants to try and drive home the Dravidian pride and rise out of the stumbling condition that Tamil Nadu politics is in.

This is not the first time when politicians have tried to mix politics with birthday party. Mayawati’s legendary birthday bashes reiterated her position as the undisputed Queen of Dalits. Take Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh, who celebrated his 74th birthday for two days with Azam Khan ordering a specially designed cake from London.

Late Jayalalithaa, in 2014, had cut a birthday cake that was shaped like the Parliament, with a subtle, yet clear, message that she was contending to be the next PM. A year later, in 2015, NCP’s Sharad Pawar threw a grand bash to mark his 75th birthday when attendees included Modi and other top leaders.

“Birthdays provide an opportunity to break ice and get together informally. However, present day opposition needs to understand that beyond an agreement between the leaders of the opposition parties, unity and harmony between cadres of different parties is far more important for effectively countering BJP’s electoral challenge,” said political observer Rasheed Kidwai.

Here’s hoping that the cake is big enough for everyone to eat.

| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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