Budheshwar Lett had been standing at Haridaspur primary school ground, trying to avoid the scorching summer sun. Even as Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee left after addressing the people, Lett stood staring at the helicopter flying out. It was the first time he had seen a helicopter from this close.
“Sir, the last time I saw a helicopter was during the floods. It was a like a small bird in the air,” said Lett. When asked the year of the flood he was referring to, he said, “The year the bridge collapsed.”
The primary school ground, the venue for the veteran Congress leader’s public address on the day, was smaller than the helipad made overnight in the adjacent field. From noon, people thronged the helipad field guarded by bamboo barricades.
As the typical roaring sound came from high above, cheers rang out from the crowd gathered at the venue. As the blades of the helicopter send dust flying on their faces as it touched down shortly after, the locals did not seem to mind. “This is amazing. It’s a helicopter. Long live Pranab Mukherjee. See how he is coming out. He is fearless,” said Malati Jana, a housewife.
Even a good half an hour after the rally wound up and the organisers came by to collect the sound equipment and other paraphernalia, thousands still milled about in the premises of the school ground. Not to reflect or introspect on the speeches of the leaders, but to see the helicopter melt away in the distance. This was the first time ever that a helicopter had landed in their village.
“Elections will come and go, but our lot would never change. These campaigns give us the chance to see the helicopters,” said Sushil Hembram, a farmer.