Pranab had said he wants to be reborn as a horse in President’s stables, recalls his sister

Long before it was formally announced that Pranab Mukherjee has been elected President, celebrations had broken out at the State headquarters of the Congress, at his residence in Kolkata and at his ancestral home at Mirati village in Birbhum district.

The office of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) were awash with green abir (coloured powder), left behind from several rounds of celebrations by supporters. They danced and came out with slogans amid bursting of firecrackers.

A huge cut-out of Mr. Mukherjee, who was the PCC president for nearly 10 years, welcomed them in and his supporters contended themselves by smearing abir on his face on the posters.

“Pranab Mukherjee has been a catalytic agent in bringing together varied forces from across the political spectrum in the State,” said PCC president Pradip Bhattacharya. He thanked the legislators of the Trinamool Congress and those of the Left for voting for Mr. Mukherjee.

There may be several political parties in the State, but on matters of Bengali pride they come together, Mr. Bhattacharya said.

Abir was liberally smeared and tossed amongst revellers at Mirati. They danced, sang and swayed to the beats of the dhak (drums). Enthusiastic children and their grandparents too joined in the celebrations. Some local youth had prepared songs particularly for the occasion and brought their guitars along to perform.

Not too far away is Kinahar, where Mr. Mukherjee’s elder sister spent her entire day in front of the television following the results as they came in.

While her health kept her from going to her brother in New Delhi, three of her sisters left the city for the capital in the afternoon.

“I am feeling very happy. I cannot put it in words. It is something that I had imagined years ago that has become a reality,” said 83-year-old Annapurna Banerjee.

Ms. Banerjee recounted Mr. Mukherjee’s observation once that he would like to be reborn as a horse in the President’s stables at Rashtrapati Bhavan. In his days as a young MP, over a cup of tea in the veranda of his residence that had a view of the grounds of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mr. Mukherjee had said the horses there had little work, but are very well kept.

“I told him ‘why should you be a horse in the President’s stable; you will become the President of the country one day.’ This has come true today,” she said.

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