HT, DARJEELING: The Bard’s song, Esho amar ghorey esho, amar ghorey (Please step into my house) ,welcomed President Pranab Mukherjee to Darjeeling on Tuesday afternoon.
Inclement weather resulting in poor visibility forced the President to proceed to Darjeeling by road from Bagdogra airport. The skies were cloudy and it poured throughout the day.
T he President ar rived at Bagdogra at 9.30 am on Tuesday. The helicopter flying the President to Darjeeling was scheduled to take off at 10.05 am. It was to land at Lebong army helipad, 8 km from Darjeeling town at 10.45 am. However, this programme was cancelled owing to inclement weather.
The President’s cavalcade started for Darjeeling at 10.35 am and took the Rohini road. He was provided a bulletproof SUV from the state government fleet. The cavalcade halted midway at Kurseong Tourist Lodge where the President had a cup of Darjeeling tea.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee was scheduled to receive the President at the Lebong helipad, however with the last minute change of plans, she was there at the Darjeeling Raj Bhavan to welcome the President. Waiting for the President, the CM took a spontaneous decision to welcome the President with Rabindranath Tagore’s song “Esho amar ghore esho…” She requested singer MLA Indranil Sen, who was accompanying the CM, to sing a few lines from the Bard’s composition.
A quick rehearsal ensued. Looking at the Raj Bhawan building, the CM wondered if a cabinet meeting could be held at the Darjeeling Raj Bhawan.
At around 1:35 pm, the cavalcade arrived at the gates of the Raj Bhawan with Indranil Sen and others joining in the song. An impressed President flashed a smile as he was welcomed to Darjeeling by Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi (who had accompanied the President from Bagdogra) and the CM.
With folded hands Mamata Banerjee remarked “Amra shokal thekey apnar jonney opekkha korchi. Apnar to helicopter e ashar kotha chilo…” (We have been waiting to welcome you since morning. You were supposed to come by helicopter). After the presenting of bouquets, the President was escorted inside.
It was a letdown for students who had gathered at the Lebong helipad to welcome the President. “We have lost a great opportunity. The weather played spoilsport. I feel sad,” said Pema Lepcha, a class 10 student of BSMI School.
At 5pm, a state reception at the Chowrasta in Darjeeling was organised for Pranab Mukherjee. On Wednesday, the President, Governor and the chief minister will attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Nepali poet Acharya Bhanubhakta at 3pm on Darjeeling Chowrasta.
On July 14, the President will attend the annual general meeting of Darjeeling Tea Association at 11 am at Gorkha Ranga Mancha in Darjeeling. The President will leave for Delhi from Bagdogra airport at 10.45 am on July 15.