Close friends, Congress colleagues as well as political opponents of Union minister and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh are praying for his speedy recovery in the city. Congress MLC Ulhas Pawar and BJP MP Prakash Javdekar said they had a strong feeling Deshmukh would fight out his illness and emerge victorious in the biggest battle of his life.
Advocate Bhaskar Avhad, a close friend of the former CM from his college days in the city, recalled Deshmukh’s tenacity in everything he did as a student. Avhad said Deshmukh completed his BSc in 1967, but did not stop at that. He said he went on to do his BA (Political Science) from Garware college and completed his law education from ILS Law College. Avhad said he used to share a hostel room with Deshmukh. “We used to call Vilasrao VDD,” he said. “The charismatic VDD was a crowd-puller even then. He was known for his choice of clothes and his hairstyle matched the ones sported by the heroes of 1960s films.”
Avhad recalled how Deshmukh was able to balance his academic commitments with the artistic side of life, saying he was also an accomplished actor in college. “I shall never forget his acting skills in the plays he performed in college gatherings, though at this moment I don’t remember the plays he acted in,” he said.
Deshmukh used to go to college on his Yamaha motorbike, and Avhad said the two-wheeler became as well-known as its rider because of VDD’s penchant for moving around the city on it with his friends. “We travelled together to many places, including Dahiwadi near Satara to meet a client in the monsoon,” Avhad said. “VDD found a garage on rent for me to run my first LLB class in the Bhandarkar Road area after I had completed LLB.”
When Deshmukh was undergoing treatment at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai earlier this month, Avhad sent him an SMS: “Wish you good health. Be busy as usual n you wud be fit....”Deshmukh replied to Avhad: “OK.”
MLC Pawar, another close friend, said: “Vilasrao had a variety of friends and some illustrious people like veteran actor Vikram Gokhale and heart surgeon Dr Neetu Mandke were his classmates. He and the late Mandke had a good rapport.”
Pawar said Deshmukh used to sing in college festivals and also plays tabala and harmonium in the gatherings. “I also remember him as an enthusiastic Youth Congress worker in the city and busy in helping the city voters to find their names from voters’ list during election days. God is great and Vilasrao will certainly come over his present health problems.”
BJP MP Jawdekar, who was Deshmukh’s junior in Garware College, said: “Vilasrao was much senior to me in college. I have had a very cordial and friendly relationship with him since my early days in Pune. Even in the early days of his political career, he was really a royal person and was always seen with a smiling face even in his difficult days. I wish for his fast recovery.”
Ravindra Vanjarwadkar, chairman, MES Society, said: “We are proud of Vilasrao Deshmukh, an illustrious ex-student of our college. He has been hardworking from his early college days. He also got employed as a demonstrator and teaching faculty in the college laboratory after completing his graduation in science. Deshmukh Saheb was the chief guest for the golden jubilee celebrations of our college a few years ago, when he was the chief minister of Maharashtra. I pray everything goes well and I feel he will come out of his health problems.”