The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha takes a brief break
- After 7 years of Business, it's time for pleasure

Calcutta, June 1: Vacation after victory is but natural. Only, in the case of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, victories are more frequent than vacations.

As chief minister, he has won two election victories in five years ' the Lok Sabha polls of 2004 not counted. So, when was the last time he took a holiday'

Well, ummm, let’s see'

It’s hard to remember because it was seven years ago. For someone in a high-stress position, vacations as far apart as seven years are not the right way of staying healthy. Bhattacharjee may have learnt much from his predecessor about administration but obviously not about the benefits of once-a-year breaks when age begins to catch up.

“After seven years of non-stop work, he has now agreed to take a vacation. Coming from him, this must mean he is very tired and really wants to take a break,” said an official close to him.

Fatigued he must be, after a gruelling election ' the level of anxiety doubled by the poll panel, though not by the challenge from Mamata Banerjee. There was also the ministry-making, one can’t tell for sure if that was more taxing than winning the election.

As if that weren’t enough, a signal had to be sent out immediately on taking charge that his government meant business ' truly business ' by meeting headlong the challenge of land acquisition for industry. Yesterday, the first meeting of the new cabinet gave the green signal. The chief minister almost rammed that one through.

So where’s he going after all these years, or where’s the seven-year holiday itch taking him' Where he had gone last time. And where did he go before he became deputy chief minister in 1999'

Shankarpur then, Shankarpur now. What the south of France is to some people, Shankarpur is to Bhattacharjee and his family and his bigger CPM parivar. The Digha-Shankarpur area was a favourite of Anil Biswas, the state party secretary who had an untimely death before the elections.

His successor Biman Bose loves it too.

“Shankarpur is a favourite place of ours, specially mine. We are all going on a family holiday for a couple of days,” said daughter Suchetana.

With Suchetana and wife Meera, Bhattacharjee leaves for Shankarpur, about 180 km from Calcutta and 14 from Digha, early tomorrow morning on a three-day vacation.

The family is scheduled to stay at the Benfish guesthouse in a secluded area, about 7 km from the town.

“We will probably spend some time watching birds. You get to see various kinds of birds there, from kingfishers to barblers and woodpeckers,” said Suchetana, an environmental activist.

Besides family trips, Suchetana had gone on a three-day college excursion as well to Shankarpur.

Not that her father likes it any less. “Shankarpur’s yellow beaches can rival some of the best beaches in the world. It’s a pity that people abroad don’t know about this beautiful destination,” he had said while opening a tourism fair last year.

This is clearly the time for vacations for the powerful. Beleaguered British Prime Minister Tony Blair is holidaying in Tuscany, Italy. French President Jacques Chirac is off to South America. President George W. Bush has just returned from his vacation.

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