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Pranab’s b’day wish for Modi: Serve for many more years 

New Delhi, September 17

Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee created a flutter in political and social media circles today with his near endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership on the latter’s 68th birthday. “I extend my warm wishes to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi on his Birthday (sic). May you be blessed with a long, healthy & happy life and continue to serve the nation for many more years to come. #CitizenMukherjee,” former President wrote on his Twitter timeline, triggering a trail of both bouquets and brickbats. 

Mukherjee’s politically nuanced message on the PM’s birthday took the Congress by surprise, with the party refraining from any official comment on what the former President had to say.

All a senior Congress leader mentioned when asked if any party leader was attending the RSS event in the capital today was: “I can speak for myself. I don’t intend to follow in the footsteps of Pranab Mukherjee.”

The jibe was for Mukherjee’s previous move of addressing a Sangh gathering at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur some time back.

Congress leaders privately acknowledged the significance of Mukherjee’s “may you serve the nation for many more years” wish for Modi on the eve of 2019 General Election preceded by Assembly polls in four states. The former President’s message followed a previous birthday greeting for the PM by Congress president Rahul Gandhi who wrote, “Happy birthday to our PM Narendra Modi ji! Wishing him good health and happiness always.”

Social media circles  remained abuzz after Mukherjee’s birthday wishes for Modi, with some people complimenting the former President for “endorsing Modi as the next PM”, and some simply targeting him saying “he is angry with the Congress”. “Pranab’s is not happy with Congress leadership…openly endorsing second term to Narendra Modi,” said one troll.

Another message read: “What does this indicate? Pranabda has more faith in Modiji to lead the nation for the next 10-15 years and make India greatest in the comity of nations.” 

Opposition leaders who took to Twitter to wish the PM were TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, National Conference’s Omar Abdullah, RJD’s Tejasvi Yadav and former Karnataka CM Siddharamaiah. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, TDP’s chief N Chandrababu Naidu and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti gave the ritual of greeting on Twitter a miss.

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