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Giant cake, news of Bollywood film mark Modi's birthday celebrations

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By Reuters
Giant cake, news of Bollywood film mark Modi's birthday celebrations
Participants take part in a boat race in the waters of Sabarmati river, to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 69th birthday in Ahmedabad, India, September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave   -   Copyright  AMIT DAVE(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Supporters of Narendra Modi cut a giant birthday cake for the Indian Prime Minister who turned 69 on Tuesday, saying he remained as popular as ever as a new Bollywood film on his life was announced.

Modi spent the day in his native state of Gujarat, addressing a public gathering and visiting a butterfly park.

The leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and prime minister since 2014 draws mass following from his conservative base, who see him as India’s strongest leader in decades capable of making the country a superpower.

His critics however say Modi has been unable to rein in hardline Hindu groups that have targeted minorities including Muslims and are undermining the secular ideals of India’s constitution.

Akshay Kumar, one of Bollywood’s biggest actors who has made a name for himself making films with nationalist themes, tweeted a poster of a forthcoming film on Modi. Earlier this year, a biopic of Modi was released, a day after he swept to a big win in general elections.

In Modi’s parliamentary constituency of Varanasi in northern India, an admirer offered a 1.25 kg gold crown at a temple, media reported.

“Modi is building the nation in a manner that was not done previously. I decided to offer a gold crown so that Modi’s and the country’s future can also shine like gold,’ News18 website quoted Arvind Singh as saying.

Trade and railways minister Piyush Goyal greeting Modi on Twitter said he was a statesman, decisive leader and an inspiration for all.

In Gujarat, schools held debates on Modi’s decision to revoke the special rights of Muslim majority Kashmir. Supporters have hailed this as India’s boldest move in decades but it has prompted protests and anger in the territory.

In Delhi, BJP members cut a giant cake to mark his birthday and the changes to Kashmir’s status.

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Sanjeevb Miglani and Alexandra Hudson)