All roads led to the chief minister's ancestral home in Ghorabandha on Wednesday.
Like on Kali Puja every year, chief minister Arjun Munda played the perfect host, personally serving bhog to visitors across all strata with gracious smiles and namaskars at the spacious shamiyana put up near his home. If Munda's back reminded him of his May 9 copter crash, he did not wince even once.
Around 10,000 guests ' ministers, corporate honchos, bureaucrats, cops, senior citizens and commoners ' attended Kali Puja celebrations at the special 1000sqft venue, the Munda family tradition for over two decades. Like every year, mother Saira, brother Bhim Singh as well as other members of the Munda clan turned up for the occasion.
This time, the chief minister reached Jamshedpur on Monday evening ' his second visit to his hometown after his narrow helicopter escape ' and looked at ease while supervising hospitality arrangements.
"Maa Kali se maine rajya ke vikas ke liye dua maangi. Jharkhand bane hue bara saal ho gayen. Hum chahte hain ki yeh rajya shanti aur samraddhi ki ore agrasar ho (I prayed to goddess Kali for the state's development. Jharkhand is now 12 years old. I want the state to take strides towards peace and progress)," the chief minister on the eve of Statehood Day said, clad in cream kurta, white pyjama and trademark maroon bundi.
He also bent numerous times to serve bhog ' a delicious spread of khichdi, fried brinjal, mixed vegetables, chutney and kheer ' in the traditional style. As a thoughtful concession, a special chair had kept ready at the shamiyana. Munda's medical attendants prodded him to rest after every 15-20 minutes.
But Munda mingled with guests and exchanged pleasantries.
"Hum thoda surprise ho gayen. CM unke back aur leg problem ki parvah nahin karte hue bhog vitaran kar rahen the (We were a bit surprised. Despite his leg and back pain, the CM still distributed bhog)," said BJP district youth leader Amar Pratap.
Among those present were HRD minister Baidyanath Ram, tourism counterpart Vimla Pradhan, BJP president (state) Dineshanand Goswami, party legislator Raghubar Das, veteran loyalist P.N. Singh, BJP MP Sudershan Bhagat, Tata Steel vice-president (safety and flat products) T.V. Narendran, Telcon MD Ranaveer Sinha, industrialist S.K. Behra, Tinplate Company of India Limited MD Tarun Dagga, SCCI president R.K. Agrawal and JSEB chairman S.N. Verma, Kolhan DIG Arun Singh.
The administrative machinery led by East Singhbhum DC Himani Pande stayed put at Ghorabandha to prevent lapses.
Munda had a packed day. From Ghorabandha, he went to attend a Kali Puja festivity at MIG Colony in Adityapur, then headed for a party function in Seraikela. He left for Ranchi in the evening.