The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Birthday boy Shotgun turns 25 years young

New Delhi, Jan. 6: Shatrughan Sinha may have crossed five decades of his life, but for his band of fawning admirers, he is no more than a 25-year-old youth.

Last month, the Union minister of health celebrated his birthday in Delhi’s plush Imperial Hotel. Amid loud cheers, Sinha’s followers announced: “We are here to celebrate the 25th birthday of our minister.”

Nobody dared laugh or poke fun. Some said it was a way of expressing admiration for the “evergreen” star.

Sinha’s admirers had also laid out a mouth-watering chocolate cake on the table and urged the minister to cut it. Rarely the one to be embarrassed, this one, however, took Sinha by surprise. He looked sheepish but obliged his cronies. There were also requests for a happy birthday song but Sinha managed to avoid it by slipping away to move among his guests.

As the birthday coincided with the last day of the winter session of Parliament where the minister chaired an AIDS meeting, Sinha took his time to make an appearance at the Imperial Hotel, where the guests were waiting.

As the evening faded into night, they grew anxious, glancing every now and then at the entrance. But there was no sign of the birthday boy who is not known for his punctuality.

Sinha is known to have made most organisers of his functions wait. He also has the dubious distinction of keeping foreign delegations and reporters cooling their heels.

The minister finally drove in at 10.30 pm when some of the guests were ready to leave. His staff had a string of excuses for the delay — besides the MPs’ meeting in Parliament, the minister had a dinner appointment at the Prime Minister’s residence.

The list of guests at the birthday party did not include any senior politicians. There were a handful of MPs and a group of bureaucrats from his ministry. Sinha’s wife Poonam, who was so visible in the early days of the minister’s taking charge, was missing.

According to the grapevine, Sinha, who before turning minister was fond of “socialising”, had a “little” birthday celebration in Mumbai as well.

At the Imperial Hotel, the minister lived up to his reputation. He attended to all his guests, shaking hands with them and sharing a personal word.

Sinha has had a tough time throughout the winter session. He was rapped by the Rajya Sabha chairperson for not knowing the subject he was speaking on and the media had lashed him for staying away from Parliament and going abroad on junkets instead.

Sinha’s colleagues, too, did not spare him. They were resentful that the minister was not present on the first day of the winter session, even when he had to move amendments to Bills and answer questions.

Although the stars have not been favouring the Vaastu-loving minister, Sinha put his worries to rest and celebrated his birthday in style with his admirers keeping him in a good mood.

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