Kanpur (UP), Jun 25 (PTI) President Ram Nath Kovind arrived in Kanpur late Friday evening aboard his special presidential train and was received by Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a grand welcome ceremony.
The president is on a three-day visit to his birthplace. He boarded the special train from the Safdarjung railway station in Delhi. The train made two stop-overs, at Jhinjhak and Rura of Kanpur Dehat, on its way to the Kanpur Central station.
During the tour, Kovind will visit his birthplace, Paraunkh village in Kanpur Dehat district, said a press communique issued by the Kanpur Commissionerate.
He will take part in various programmes scheduled in Paraunkh village on Sunday, the statement added.
On June 28, the president will board the train from the Kanpur Central railway station to reach Lucknow for a two-day visit.
The president interacted with his close and old acquaintances at Jhinjhak and Rura stations, where the special train made stop-overs, Kanpur Dehat Superintendent of Police Keshav Kumar Choudhary said.
He received a grand welcome at these stations, he added.
It is after a gap of 15 years that an incumbent president is travelling by train.
This is Kovind's first visit to his birthplace after becoming the president. He will be interacting with his old acquaintances from school days and the early days of his social service.
Though he had desired to visit the place earlier, it could not materialise because of the coronavirus pandemic.
'As he boards the train, the president will be travelling down the memory lane that will cover a span of seven decades of his life, right from his childhood to holding the top constitutional position in the country,' a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan had said earlier.
The last time a president travelled by train was in 2006 when A P J Abdul Kalam boarded a special train from Delhi to Dehradun to attend the passing-out parade of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) cadets.
Records show that the country's first president, Rajendra Prasad, often undertook train journeys, the Rashtrapati Bhavan had said.
The Railways said that the service of the Presidential Saloon, which was in use since the Independence, had been discontinued on the instructions of the President.
'This saved the exchequer crores of rupees annually utilized in the making and maintenance of the saloon. Post-Covid as the country enters into resurgence and a rebuilding mode, the Indian Railways had requested the President to travel by the people's transport,' the Northern Railways said in a statement.
It said a special train service was run for his excellency to travel from Delhi to his native village.
'This move will be a great morale booster for the railwaymen who have diligently given their services throughout the difficult pandemic times. This will also help to encourage and build confidence among the people to use the trains to travel for business, tourism and other purposes to different parts of the country,' the statement issued on Friday said.
Railway Minister Goyal, who was present at the station to see off Kovind, thanked him for using the railways for his journey and expressed that post-pandemic, the vast rail network will help the country to regain its economic glory very soon.
On June 29, Kovind will return to New Delhi on a special flight. PTI Corr ABN IJT IJT