Three days is too short a time for visiting one’s home state for the first time, after one is elevated to the highest office of the country, think the students of Sangrampur Girls High School in North 24-Parganas, who are keenly waiting for the President who gave them a bridge to cross a turbulent river.
During the monsoon, the students found it impossible to cross the swollen river and attend school. In early Nineties, a group of girls wrote to the deputy chairman of the planning commission Pranab Mukherjee expressing their dilemma.
That one letter from the students was enough. Pranab sanctioned funds and asked the Left Front Government to construct the bridge. The girls are ever grateful and today they want to see their president. “They are upset that he is going to West Midnapore to attend the IIT programme in Kharagpur but not coming to their district, which is closer to the city,” said a schoolteacher.
Pranab will be staying in the Prince of Wales suite of Raj Bhavan during his stay in the city. On Sunday morning, he would be visiting his apartment in the ‘Batayan’ housing complex in Dhakuria.
He will meet his close associates and friends in the few hours that he would be spending at his home. Pranab used to stay in Room number 3 of Nizam Place before he shifted to Batayan in mid-80s. All these years, it was a common sight to find Pranab taking his morning walk by the lake every day when he was in the city.
But now that he is a President, this is ruled out. “He has to give up his morning walk by the lake like he gave up smoking pipes 15 year ago. He loved Amphora tobacco and has a fantastic collection of pipes, which are kept in pipe stands in his Greater Kailash residence in New Delhi,” said a Congress MP.
Talking about the relations between Pranab Mukherjee and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress leaders say any rift between the two can be settled with a bar of chocolate. “Both love it. I have seen Mamata break the ice with Pranab after a political stalemate with chocolate,” said a Trinamool leader.
Political leaders said though a foreign dignitary is due during Durgotsav in October which demands the presence of Pranab in the capital, he would certainly take out time to visit his village Kirnahar to celebrate Durga Puja.
In early Nineties, he was in the US for a GATT treaty as Durgostsav but he returned on time to visit his family during Puja.
“He does Chandi Path and the rituals himself. He has been doing it for five six decades now,” said a Congress leader.