President Pranab Mukherjee has not forgotten Bidyanagar College in South 24-Parganas district from where he began his career in the 1960s, nor have his former students and colleagues forgotten him.
"He (Mukherjee) was always close to his students. He impressed us very much as a teacher and we remember him as such even after so many years," former students Swapan Roy, a panchayat samiti chairman, Sudhangshu Karar, a retired teacher and Geeta Rani Karmakar, told PTI here.
Mukherjee, who laid the foundation stone of the new building of the college on its golden jubilee today, was a lecturer in political science and history from August 18, 1963 to 1968 when he joined active politics.
"He remembers and instantly recognises us by our names... He has kept in touch with us during his very busy days as a central minister. We are in contact with him and seek his advice in our private lives," Roy and Karar said.
"He had a personality and a smile that attracted us. We feel happy that he has retained his smile and happy face. We see it in the newsfeeds on the TV," they said.
Mukherjee, they said, still took keen interest about the college and its welfare.
"The students of Bidyanagar College can never forget him. We, because of our long relationship with him and the present students because the institution would never have become what it is today without his help," they said.
The college has grown in size and stature with Mukherjee's help. From only 60 students in the humanities stream it has over 2000 students in science, commerce and humanities now with funds from UGC.
Mukherjee taught Indian politics, Indian Constitution and foreign constitutions at the college. He became a member of the governing body and its vice-principal in 1965.
Harendranath Majumder, who was a minister in the Bangla Congress regime during the 1960s in the state, had spotted Mukherjee at the Bharat Sabha Hall library and had got him the job at the college, where he was the governing body president.
He helped Mukherjee to join politics in 1966 and two years later he quit the college.
After classes Mukherjee, who used to reside in the college quarters, would train teachers of nearby Bidyanagar primary school.
The chair that he used to sit on as a teacher is being preserved by the college.
The college authorities had invited Mukherjee to its golden jubilee celebrations even before he became President last year.