Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi turned 50 on Friday but chose to spend the day at home sans celebration in view of the death of Indian soldiers in a violent clash with the Chinese army in Ladakh and the coronavirus crisis.
A host of top Congress leaders wished him on his birthday, with former prime minister Manmohan Singh among the first to send his best wishes through a letter in the morning.
The Congress has asked its state and district units not to hold any celebratory functions. AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal wrote to the state units in this regard.
"Wishing good health, happiness and joy to dear Rahul Gandhi ji on his b'day. He has decided not to celebrate his b'day owing to the martyrdom of our soldiers and COVID crisis. To mark the occasion Congress shall provide food kits to the neediest and pay respect to our brave jawans," Venugopal said in a tweet.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of Ladakh on June 15, the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated an already volatile border standoff in the region.
India is also reeling under the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The country has been reporting record spikes in cases of the contagious respiratory disease, which has so far infected 3,80,532 people and claimed 12,573 lives.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel wished Gandhi good health, prosperity and a long life.
Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said, "Wishing Rahul Gandhi a happy birthday. May the 50s bring him good health, happiness and success. May God give him the strength to uphold the ideals and commitment of the Indian National Congress to serve India and its people."
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted, "Warmest birthday greetings to Rahul Gandhi Ji. May he be blessed with a long, healthy life full of happiness and peace. May Rahul ji succeed in his endeavors towards establishing a society based on NYAY for all, where common people can live with dignity."
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also took to the microblogging site to wish Gandhi.
"Dear Rahul Gandhi, warm wishes to you on your birthday. Take care of yourself and keep working for India," he said.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Tough times are testing times, struggle is intrinsic to men of resolve, the temperament to handle it all with equanimity, fearlessness of spirit and an intense commitment to serve is the test of a leader. Privileged to work with such a leader. Birthday wishes to Shri Rahul Gandhi."
Congress students' wing National Students Union of India (NSUI) marked the day by holding a blood donation camp and providing financial aid to four families in Delhi who were badly affected by the coronavirus crisis.