The seat he accepted with some hesitation is set to lose Pranab,not his home

The Finance Minister,who was eventually convinced by elder brother Pijush,never regretted that move.

Written by Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay | Jangipur | Published: June 17, 2012 1:56:21 am

It had taken quite a bit of persuasion for Pranab Mukherjee to agree to contest from this constituency in Murshidabad district,having lost two previous Lok Sabha contests from Malda and Bolpur.

The Finance Minister,who was eventually convinced by elder brother Pijush,never regretted that move. The bond that he has come to share with Jangipur,from where he has won twice now,is symbolised by the house he is building here for himself.

Now that Mukherjee looks set to enter Rashtrapati Bhavan,the structure on a four-bigha plot amidst paddy fields at Sonatikuri may not look that impressive. However,caretaker Atanu Choudhury vouches for the loving involvement of Mukherjee in the construction,particularly its impressive library.

The 12-room house,with lobbies and enclosed by lofty walls,is secluded from outside din and bustle. “He himself has designed it though he got professional expertise of a Kolkata-based architect. He came three-four times to supervise the job,” said Choudhury.

“He often laments that he does not find time to read books,though he has a formidable collection. But now as his workload is likely to decrease,I am sure he will use the time to savour his favourite books. And once he is back here… he will have all the time to read books,” Pushpal Das,in-charge of the Jangipur Congress office who said he had been assigned by Mukherjee to “nurse the constituency”,told The Indian Express.

Das,who has known Mukherjee for more than a decade,called him an “executive politician”,more a bureaucrat than a politician. “I have seen him work 20 hours a day. A handful of rice,moong daal and posto bada is all he would eat and embark on his job. During the campaign,when he was not on the streets,he would do office work,always in touch with officials in Delhi. It was difficult to keep pace with him,” Das said.

He recalled another interesting anecdote about Mukherjee’s 2004 campaign. “At a place called Giri,a young boy called him said,‘Hey Pranabjethu,why don’t you do something to check the Ganga erosion? We have lost our home and hearth’. After Pranabda won,he came back and looked for the boy. And it was because of Pranabda’s efforts that Ganga erosion became a national issue and the Centre is releasing money,” Das said.

In Mirati,Mukherjee’s ancestral village in Birbhum,celebrations began after news came of the UPA nominating him as president. Jangipur too is happy,though it is set to lose its prominent MP. “The puja and yagna (at Mirti) will go on till he is sworn in,’’ Ravi Chattoraj,his close associate at Mirati,where Mukherjee’s elder sister Annapurna Devi and elder brother Pijush Mukherjee,a former schoolteacher,live,said.

“Before Mukherjee took the decision to contest (from Jangipur),Pijushda came quite a few times to my house,making an assessment of Pranabbabu’s prospects. He,along with Samar Mukherjee (MLA from Rotua in Murshidabad),went from village to village asking people about the prospects of his win,” Mohamad Sohrab,Congress Legislature Party leader and MLA from Jangipur,who was Pranab’s election agent both in 2004 and 2009,said.

While there are some who believe their MP did not do enough in terms of getting them big industry or improving their employment prospects,Jangipur more or less supports Mukherjee as president.

One of them is Manirul Islam,one of the 18 lakh beedi workers of Murshidabad for whom Mukherjee helped set up a provident fund office at Umarpur in the district. “Earlier people had to go to Kolkata to deal with PF matters,but now it is close at hand.”

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