Updated: June 27, 2021 7:29:27 am
Situated over 70 km from Kanpur city, Paraunkh boasts a gate made of cement declaring that the village is the birthplace of the President of India. On Saturday, the eve of Ram Nath Kovind’s first visit to Paraunkh since taking over as Head of State, the road to it stood freshly repaired as the village dressed up to receive him.
The small, kuchcha structure where Kovind was born now is a two-storey ‘Milan Kendra’, where a fresh smell of paint suggested a recent renovation. Several officials from the district revenue department peered into its corners to check all was ready. A deep red carpet covered the floor, new sofas and chairs were being placed, and flowers were being put up to decorate the house.
The house now has a handpump and a solar panel on the roof. A district official confirmed that the work was completed by PWD officials in the last 10 days.
In the open field where Kovind is to address the people Sunday, a large tent is up. He will be paying tributes at an Ambedkar statue and will be felicitated at an Abhinandan Samaroh.
Earlier the Rashtrapati Bhavan had said in a statement that while Kovind wanted to visit his village earlier, the plan had to be scrapped because of the pandemic. Kovind travelled from Delhi to Kanpur on a special presidential train, becoming the first head of state in 15 years to take a railway journey.
Several relatives of the President, including his elder brother Ram Swaroop Bharti, have arrived at Paraunkh. “We are all excited,” says a cousin, Chandra Prakash Kovind, recalling that Kovind had left the village for Kanpur city soon after finishing Class 8, and from there moved to Delhi.
It was in 2001, after Kovind became a Rajya Sabha member, that the family’s house became a single-floor pucca structure and was given the name Milan Kendra, Chandra Prakash says. It is used for marriages and to host VIPs. “After Kovind ji became the President, another floor was added.”
Neighbour Dhirendra Kovind remembers Kovind last coming to the village as the Governor of Bihar. He claims that his family and he take care of Milan Kendra as a matter of pride, not charging any money for it.
“A lot has changed here since he became the President. The village has a proper pucca road leading to it. There is a government primary school, a government secondary school and a government inter college. The authorities gave special focus to the village during Covid times and almost the entire 18-plus population in the village has received its first vaccine dose. All that because the village holds a special place,” Dhirendra says.
He points out another way the village shows its admiration for Kovind. “It might be evident from the fact that several locals of the village are called ‘Kovind’. They changed their surname after he became the President of India.”