Local people living in and around chief minister Mamata Banerjee&’s residence in Kalighat in south Kolkata take justifiable pride in the girl next door who occupies the top post in the state Cabinet.

The neighbourhood is safer thanks to the presence of a large posse of policemen who keep an eye on the lanes and by-lanes surrounding the chief ministerial residence. Moreover, some enterprising neighbour is not loath in handing over a petition to the chief minister when her convoy rolls out of her Harish Chatterjee Street home. But proximity to the powers that be has its fallout as well. With the chief minister away on a trip to north Bengal, the local people found that a flank of Hazra Road has been dug up.

This is the thoroughfare along which the didi&’s motorcade journeys to the state secretariat at Nabanna and back home. Sticking to her commoner&’s image, the chief minister never uses a red light atop her car or a hooter in her convoy. But the men in uniform posted along her daily route ensure that no obstructions slow down the chief minister&’s convoy. Digging up a portion of the road which is part of her daily journey would have been unthinkable when she is in town. Small wonder, the agency which wants to place an underground pipe chose her absence to be the most opportune time to do its job. And if some of the local people are inconvenienced in the process, they have to grin and bear it.