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   A friend, who had given up the world (December 11, 1990)

A friend, who had given up the world for ten months and was living a hermit's life on a barren Himalayan peak, returned to Bombay yesterda. Since he had left shortly after the victory of the Janata Dal and the election of Mr. V.P. Singh as prime minister, he naturally knew nothing of the developments since them. So I went to the airport to brief him and brings him up-to-date.

The yoogic life had evidently done him well. He appeared very clam, relaxed and peaceful.

"Hello, hello," he said, coming out of the terminal. "Is the Janata Dal still in government?"

"Well, yes and no," I said. "The Janata Dal is in government, but it is not the Janata Dal and yet it is the same but different."

"You are talking in riddles," the friends said. "Just tell me, is V.P. Singh still the prime minister?"

"No, he is not, but that does not mean the Janata Dal is no more in power, because it is, though the government has fallen," I explained.

"You are not making sense," the friend said. "If the government has fallen and V.P. Singh is not the prime minister, then has the BJP taken over and has L.K. Advani become the prime minister?"

"No, no, Advani has not become the prime minister, and the BJP has withdrawn its support, though the Janata Dal government is still there even if V.P. Singh is sitting in the opposition," I said.

The friend was looking less calm and relaxed be more specific. Are you trying to tell me that the Congress has returned to power and Rajiv Gandhi is once again prime minister?"

"I did not bear anything about Rajiv Gandhi becoming prime minister, though there was talk of Sharad Pawar becoming deputy prime minister," I said. "And the Congress is in power but it is not in the government. To make it absolutely clear, the Congress is like what the BJP was when the Janata Dal was in power, though not as it is in power now, without V.P. Singh."

The friend was looking agitated, his face was becoming red. "Led us take one thing at a time. We will begin with Devi Lal. Is he still deputy prime minister?"

"Certainly," I said. "But not deputy prime minister like he was when you knew him. He was sacked by V.P. Singh, but then he sacked V.P. Singh to become prime minister, but Rajiv Gandhi made him deputy prime minister."

The friend was by this time tearing his hair, stamping his feet. He turned arround and walked back into the terminal.

"Where are you going? The taxi-stand is this side?" I said.

"I am taking the next plane back to the Himalyas," the friend said.

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