Waiting for you, Mr President

June 20th, 2012

If Pranab Mukherjee becomes the 13th  President of India, there are more than 13 reasons to celebrate, for me personally, as well as a for  fraternity of journalists.

The trauma dates back to a sunny afternoon in June 2009, when monsoon rains were yet to hit the parched fields in the Bengal.

I, along with a group of journalists, were off to Jangipur, the winning constituency of Mukherjee, now a mall of financial services. Six hours of ride through rough roads, spotted with potholes, and adorned with posters of Mukherjee, marked the sojourn to Jangipur.

The next day, Mukherjee was to inaugurate branch of  a public sector bank. For those, who have never been to a bank branch inauguration ceremony, don’t be misled. It is a spectacle to see what it takes to inaugurate a bank branch.

At 45 degree Celsius temperature, the crowd that had gathered at a football ground to have a glimpse of Mukherjee, competed with the one I recently saw outside Eden Garden on the day of Kolkata vs Pune match, last IPL season.

The public sector bank had made elaborate arrangements for making the show a success.  A radio jockey  was invited  for  hosting the afternoon’s event. There were food packets stacked in one corner of the ground, but only to be distributed after the programme was over. Seats below sparingly placed fans, hanging precariously on the roof made of yellow and red stitched cloth, were all occupied.

As we were  seated on the front rows, two men were giving minute-to-minute update of FM’s en route to the site. A word to word translation meant this : “In ten minutes, the symbol of development, our most respected, most beloved, Pranab da, finance minister of India will be here. Yes here, right here.”

Mukherjee’s arrival was delayed for more than half hour now. As the crowd was getting a little impatient in the heat, the RJ took over the stage.

“So how will you greet the FM? Will you all whistle and cheer when he comes?,” she asked.

Immediately, the euphoria was back, as if people were imbibed with a high dose of glucose.

Finally, the moment came. Everyone looked up, as the sight of a helicopter was more than a delight for many.
Alas, along with the executive director and chairman of the bank, Pranab da was here. Some on the stage were in black suits and tie, as I wondered about their heat-endurance level. Later, I came to know, the stage was air-conditioned.

FM came, praised the bank and left.

As the FM left, I could see an almost riot like situation in one corner of the stage.  An angry mob was  ready to take on the Police, as they had not got food packets.

By then, FM and the two bankers were comfortably seated in the helicopter, as they left a smoke of dust in the air.

Some stray lines in FM s speech on how Indian banks had endured since the era of Indira Gandhi made the story. Next was the hunt for Internet. Finally, the sent button clicked, and it was over. Sigh!

A horribly tiring day has come to an end.

Back home at a 1 AM, I took a pledge to never go Jangipur again.

The optimism was short lived. By next week, another PSU had sent an invitation for a bank branch inauguration at Jangipur.

Ever since then, several times, I have been to Jangipur.

Hopefully, I never will not go Jangipur again.

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