Pranab's hometown rolls out red carpet for its 'Poltu'

Pranab's hometown rolls out red carpet for its 'Poltu'

Union Finance Minister and UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee Sunday arrived at his ancestral village home to a rapturous welcome as relatives, neighbours, fans and friends literally rolled out the red carpet for their beloved "Poltu".

This sleepy village in West Bengal's Birbhum district was abuzz since early morning awaiting the arrival of their famous son who is first from the state on way to becoming the president.

Welcome arches were erected on the way to the Mukherjees' residence while hundreds of people gathered on both sides of the road for a glimpse of the leader who was born in the village in 1935.

As the 76-year-old leader climbed down from his car and walked on the 200 metre-long red carpet towards his ancestral house, people showered him with flower petals and women ululated and blew conch shells to show their solidarity.

Mukherjee's lawmaker son Abhijeet sought support for his father. "As a son, I want everyone to back my father for the presidential polls."

Received with a five-foot long flower garland amid chants of "Pranab Babu zindabad", a smiling and relaxed Mukherjee greatly enjoyed the adulation as he kept on saying: "I am just one of you".

The village basked in joyous moment as tribal women in traditional dresses put on dances and musicians played drums and other instruments.

"He may be a leader for the country but for us he is still our Poltu (Mukherjee's nickname). I have come here to wish him luck," said an elderly man.

After worshipping goddess Durga, the family's guardian deity, Mukherjee headed to meet his elder sister Annapurna Banerjee in the adjacent small town Kirnahar, about 170 km from Kolkata, where too thousands of people gathered to welcome him.

The principal of his alma mater - Kirnahar Shib Chandra Boys School - garlanded Mukherjee while the representatives of the minority committee handed him a silken 'chaadar'.

The Birbhum police gave him a guard of honour as Mukherjee took the salute standing atop a makeshift dais.

After the guard of honour, Mukherjee bowed down to touch his sister Annapurna's feet to seek her blessing, while she put her hand on his head and said: "Aay Baba ghore aay" (come dear, inside the house).

Before entering the house, Mukherjee waved at the crowd waiting outside and told them he will be resigning from the Manmohan Singh government June 26 to bring an end to his four-decade-long party political career.

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