Why President Pranab Mukherjee Was Know As ‘Poltu’ In Childhood ?

July 17, 2017 Author: Nirmit Sinh

As a Boy in standard 3 or 4,  Pranab Mukherjee, on rainy mornings, would push his clothes in paper, tuck them under an arm and march off to school bare feet through the fields of his village in West Bengal.

It was perhaps because the schoolboy's mannerisms resembled that of a marching platoon ('polton' in Bengali) that India's outgoing president came to be fondly known as 'Poltu'.

"His father and elder sister Annapurna Devi started calling him Poltu," recalled by journalist and long-time friend Jayanta Ghosal, who has known President Mukherjee since 1985.

 As India elects a new president today to replace Mr Mukherjee, the Poltu story is one that will strike a chord with families across the country as Indians have a special fondness for them.

Bengalis, in particular, love their pet names, or daak naam. Rabindranath Tagore, for instance, was fondly called Robi, Satyajit Ray was widely known as Manik or Manik da, while Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee is called Bumba. The late West Bengal chief minister, Siddharth Shankar Ray -- said to be one of the architects of the Emergency was called ‘Manu’.