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India’s finance minister is now a priest


Kirnahar (West Bengal) : Away from laying down national policies on tackling the slowdown and ensuring inclusive growth, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is now busy being the priest for the traditional Durga Puja celebrations at his ancestral home here.

Wearing the pattabastra (a silk cloth worn for worshipping the deity), Mukherjee performed the puja rituals Friday and Saturday and read from the religious script “Sree Sree Chandi” at Miriti village, two km from this town in Birbhum district and about 200 km from Kolkata.

He fasted till all the rituals were over.

However, unlike in the past, Mukherjee did not go to the village pond to fill a pitcher, a ritual that started the prayers on Mahasaptami Friday.

Mukherjee has been performing the worship for the four-day autumnal festival – the biggest religious celebration for Bengalis – for years. He usually comes home to ‘Mukherjee Bhavan’ on Shasthi and stays there till the immersion of the idols on Vijaya Dasami – which falls on Monday this year.

This year, the key troubleshooter of the centre’s United progressive Alliance (UPA) dispensation is staying in his sister’s home in this town and has kept aside all political and economic issues during the puja days.

The Durga Puja celebrations at Mukherjee Bhavan were started by the finance minister’s grandfather more than 100 years back.

A thick security cover has been thrown in and around the village in view of a threat perception to the minister from the Maoists who have pockets of influence in the district.