'I don't belong to any party now'

The people of Mirati, a small hamlet nearly 190 km from Kolkata where Pranab Mukherjee was born, rolled out a red carpet for their beloved Poltu (Mukherjee’s nick name) on Saturday.

Mukherjee’s convoy had to be stopped at a bridge on the Koya river and he had to walk for around 150 yards because people wanted to give him a rapturous welcome. 

Adorned with a five feet-long flower garland, Mukherjee walked into his ancestral house where a victory gate had been erected as tribal women welcomed him with a traditional dance.  

This sleepy village of West Bengal’s Birbhum district has been abuzz with activity since Saturday morning. Nostalgia floated all over the village as Mukherjee’s former teachers, friends, relatives and neighbours came to have a look at this great son of the nation.

Mukherjee said: “I don’t belong to any party now not even of Congress. I will resign on the 26th as the Finance Minister and thereafter I shall resign as the member of the Congress Working Committee. I shall send my resignation to Sonia Gandhi soon.”

Taking a potshot the Trinamool Congress, the Union Finance Minister said: “I have got the support of all the parties within UPA but one. Those who are yet to take a decision, I request them to support the UPA nominee.”

Mukherjee said he not only got support from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, but also CPM, All India Forward Bloc, Janata Dal-United and Shiv Sena.Debanjan Mukherjee, who was once Mukherjee’s teacher and cannot walk now because of paralysis, came on a wheel chair from Siuri, 60 km from Mirati, to meet him.

“I have taught him once and it is my pride that I was his teacher once. He will become the president of the country but I have just come to see my little Poltu,” he said.

The teacher’s of Mukherjee’s school, the Kirnahar Shib Chandra Boys School, presented him a garland while representatives of the minority committee handed him a silk shawl.After worshiping the family’s guardian deity, goddess Durga, he headed to the adjacent Parota village to meet his elder sister Annapurna Banerjee.

Before entering the house Mukherjee said to the crowd: “I am a person from the village and I shall never forget that. My four decades of political career is on the verge of ending but my relation with this village will never end.”

After that he was given a guard of honour and Mukherjee bowed down to touch his elder sister’s feet as she said: “Aay Baba ghoray aay (come dear inside the house).”

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