KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s passion for writing poetry and painting is well known. Less known is her interest in physical fitness.
Barely had she begun her second innings at Nabanna, the state secretariat, than she ordered the setting up of a multi-gymnasium in the 14-storey building on the banks of Hooghly in adjoining Howrah district. No other state secretariat has a gymnasium for government employees.
Mamata spends at least two hours each morning on the treadmill and cross trainer at her Kalighat residence. When she finds time in the evenings, she takes brisk walks at Citizens’ Park.
She is known to frequently advises bureaucrats with paunches, “Go for walks and exercise. Be slim and trim. You will be healthy.”
Being extremely health conscious she avoids eating too much rice but prefers puffed rice with sprouts. “For meals she favours very little rice with ‘Tangra’ (special small fish) curry,” said a close family friend.
The state PWD department has finalised setting up of the multi-gym and the file has been cleared by Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee. The detailed plan of the gym and the equipment to be purchased now only needs Mamata’s approval, just days away.
The decision created a flutter among bureaucrats and some senior IPS officials, who have offices at Nabanna. Some serving bureaucrats and police officials play golf at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club or ride horses. Older officials usually go for morning walks. Many visit private gyms after work.
Several such officials told Express, “We don’t feel good unless we sweat it out... Now we can reach office early, work out in the gym and after a cool bath, concentrate on work.”
After Mamata shifted the state secretariat to Nabanna from the British era Writers’ Buildings in the heart of the city, it looks more like a corporate office.
“A multi-gym will add glamour to our secretariat and will benefit a large number of employees,” commented a principal secretary with the state government.