It is ironic that Pranab Mukherjee, leader of the house in the Lok Sabha, all these days had no house of his own in his Lok Sabha constituency, Jangipur in West Bengal's Murshidabad district.
But now he is building one. And the people who have sent Mukherjee to the Lok Sabha twice (2004 and 2009) from Jangipur are excited about the prospect of having the Union finance minister as their
neighbour in Dewli village, about 250 km to the north of Kolkata.
Mukherjee had just a rented home that wasn't large enough to accommodate even his security persons. As a result, he could not spend a night in Jangipur. He would inevitably leave for Murshidabad.
The area encompassing Mukherjee's home will be spread over more than an acre (43,560 square feet) and the building, when completed, will have four rooms on the ground floor and five on the first. There will be a pond and plenty of greenery all around. And of course, a room exclusively for performing puja for Mukherjee the priest.
Locals say as soon as work began on Mukherjee's home, land prices in the village started shooting up. Raghunathganj MLA Mohammad Akhruzzaman, a Congressman, told HT: "Pranabda bought one acre for R12,000 (in 2009). Now farmers are selling similar pieces for as much as Rs. 2.5 lakh."
"The earlier plan was to complete the work by poila baisakh (Bengali new year, usually April 15). But as things stand now, it will take another seven-eight months," Akhruzzaman said.
UCO Bank, a state-run entity headquartered in Kolkata, has adopted this village for its activities on corporate social responsibility (CSR).