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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 09:17 GMT
'Bling-bling' birthday for Goan politician

By Soutik Biswas
BBC News Online correspondent in Delhi

An extravagant birthday bash for a colourful Indian minister promises to become the mother of all parties in the sun-soaked beach state of Goa.

Francesco Pacheco
Tourism minister Francisco 'Micky' Pacheco loves his hip-hop

More than 15,000 guests are expected to turn up when Francisco 'Micky' Pacheco celebrates his 38th birthday at a football stadium on Friday.

"Life is uncertain. I don't know whether I will be alive next year on this day. So I try to live it up on my birthday," Mr Pacheco told BBC News Online.

Mr Pacheco is the minister for tourism, sports and youth affairs in Goa's coalition government, led by India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The guests at his birthday bash include all the 14 ministers of the state cabinet, including the chief minister.

There will be two bands belting out live music, a dance floor, a sprawling bar under a tent serving drinks through the night, and four buffet food stations to cope with the demand.

Pre-party duties

Mr Pacheco, who loves listening to Tupac Shakur and Snoop Doggy Dogg and was once bass guitarist for a local band, unabashedly adopts the bling-bling lifestyle of his hip-hop icons.

Big birthday parties by politicians have become a trend in Goa. But Micky Pacheco has obviously taken this culture to an all-time high
Frederick Noronha, Goa analyst

He is usually kitted out in funky body hugging shirts, a bandana, gold rings and clunky chains.

The minister is set to have a particularly frenetic birthday this year.

Before the party kicks off on Friday evening, Mr Pacheco will be zipping around Goa presiding over 23 official functions.

These include inauguration ceremonies for three bridges, a gymnasium and a power substation.

Fashion designer

Mr Pacheco's birthday parties have been the talk of Goa for the last three years.

Goa beach
Goa's pristine beaches are popular with party-loving tourists

"The first year I had 8,000 people. Over the next two years, there were anything between 12,000 to 15,000 guests."

"This year, I expect over 15,000 to come," he says.

There is an open invitation to everybody from his native village of Betalbatim.

Mr Pacheco comes from what he calls a "very poor family" - his father was a "small businessman".

Mr Pacheco says he graduated in fashion design from New York and now runs six companies with diverse interests.

The minister says he is still a fashion designer - "evening and cocktail dresses" are his forte.

He owns a showroom in Paris, homes in Florida and travel and recruitment agencies in Goa and Miami.

He has also bought a local football club and says he has hired 120 players, including three Brazilians and two Nigerians for the local league.

All-time high

Mr Pacheco insists he is funding his own birthday party.

"Most people join politics to get rich. I came to politics after I was rich and had everything I wanted," he says.

He says he takes no extra privileges from the government, and drives around in his own Mercedes Benz.

Mr Pacheco entered politics 18 months ago, becoming a member of the United Goan Democratic Party (Secular), and became a minister soon after.

But promoting tourism and sports, youth affairs in Goa is just part of his job.

"I spend at least 10 days out of India every month to attend to my businesses. I have too many things to do," he says.

Goa-based analyst Frederick Noronha says Mr Pacheco's is a "rags to riches story".

His birthday bash, he says, is in keeping with Goa's "strange culture" of celebrating its politicians' birthdays.

"Big birthday parties by politicians have become a trend in Goa."

"Politicians put out ads in newspapers on their birthdays, usually paid for by their supporters, and hold parties in their villages. Its part of the culture of celebration here," says Mr Noronha.

"But Micky Pacheco has obviously taken this culture to an all-time high."




SEE ALSO:
Hippie legacy lingers in Goa
05 Sep 03  |  South Asia
Goa's Catholics under threat?
02 Sep 03  |  South Asia
India's BJP takes over in Goa
03 Jun 02  |  South Asia
Reviving Goa's Portuguese past
25 Jul 03  |  South Asia


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