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   This is a true story... (September 11, 1990)

This is a true story.

In school we had a boy with us whose ambition in life was to become the prime minister of India. He used to tell us other boys: "I will one day become the prime minister, you watch it. It is my ambition in life to become prime minister."

We used to laugh at him. "Who will ever make you prime minister!" we used to tell him. "You are not good at your studies, you come last in sports, you are not even a member of the Nehru family."

But the tearchers used to praise him. "It is good to have an ambition. All of you should also have an ambition like him," they would say, pointing at the little boy."

The little boy did not become a prefect in the school or with any prizes. He would say: "Why should I become a prefext! I am going to be prime ministr one day, that is enough for me."

After we passed out of school, I went to college. He did not. Going to college, he said, would not make him a prime minister. It was a waste of time. Instead, he started union activities. He became a student union leader, though he was not a student. Once he called a strike, and I joined the strike, because he was my friend.

My father never approved of him. He is waster and a troublemaker, he used to say. But my father was old-fashioned, he did not know you had to do all these thngs to become a prime minister.

As it happens with old school friends when they grow up, we went our separate ways. I began working, earned a small salary, though of the day when I would earn more salary. He hung around politicians, began slowly climbing up the political ladder. But he climbed so slowly that I did not think he would ever become prime minister.

But we kept in touch. He addressed meetings and, as a reporter, I used to sometimes cover his meetings. Though very rarely, because he was only a small time politician and the papers I used to work for were not interested in reporting small time politicians. Still, whenever I would meet him, he would tell me: "You watch it I am going to become prime minister one day. It is the ambition of my life."

He started standing for elections; some he won, some he lost. He started changing sides; one day he was a Congressman, the next day he was not, the third day again he was associating with the Congress. Other politicians said he was not to be trusted. Everybody said he was very ambitious, he wanted to be prime minister, nothing less. Of course, I knew that from the beginning, from the time when we were little boys on school.

So, the other day, when I read in the papers that he was likely to be come deputy prime minister, I was not surprised. As I read that I knew that my old school friend, Sharad Pawar, was tell on his way to become prime minister.

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