Mumbai, Nov 28 (PTI) As the Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai gears up for swearing-in of Uddhav Thackeray as Maharashtra's new chief minister, a mood of celebration also prevails at his school, the nearby Balmohan Vidyamandir.
Not only Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena, but Jayant Patil of the NCP, who is likely to take oath as minister, is also a former student of this school.
Thackeray, a 1976-batch student of Balmohan school, was announced as nominee for chief minister's post at a meeting of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi three days ago.
Happiness and excitement among teachers, trustees and current and former students of the school was palpable on Thursday.
As decks were cleared for Thackeray's ascension to the top post, some of his batch-mates visited the school.
While Thackeray will be holding a post in government for the first time, Jayant Patil was minister in Congress-NCP governments in the past.
At school, Patil was Thackeray's one year junior.
Both are from political families -- Uddhav's father Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena while Patil's father Rajaram Bapu Patil was a veteran Congress leader.
However, nobody would have ever imagined that these two schoolmates would find themselves in the same cabinet, as Sena and NCP (a Congress offshoot) have been on opposite sides of political spectrum all along.
'This is a proud moment for the school as two of our students are taking oath of office,' Guruprasad Rege, trustee and director of the school, told PTI.
This may be for the first time in the country that two students of the same school are becoming ministers, he said.
'We all are happy and we will definitely celebrate this moment,' he said, adding that rise of the two leaders could be seen as the school's contribution to nation-building.
'My late grandfather Dadasaheb Rege started the school in 1940, during freedom struggle, with the aim of developing students physically, mentally, culturally and socially and also as good human beings,' he said.
Former Supreme Court judges Hemant Gokhale and Ranjana Desai, High Court judge Dilip Bhosle, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, actor- producer Amol Palekar, former Indian cricketer Sandeep Patil are among the alumni of the school.
'I am very much happy as my childhood friend Uddhav is becoming chief minister. I hope this government runs for 25 years,' Thackeray's childhood friend Vinay Kore told PTI.
'He has always been very simple, honest and calm since our schooldays,' said Kore, who studied with Thackeray since the first standard.
'Actually he was a year senior to me. But a teacher scolded him for some reason on the very first day. It scared him so much that he did not attend school for one whole year,' Kore said.
Next year Bal Thackeray himself escorted him to school on the first day, Kore said.
'Our class teacher Vasundhara-tai handled him very well, and he began to mix with other kids,' Kore recalled.
Purushottam Naik, who taught Uddhav as well as his two brothers, said this was a 'joyous moment'.
'There is celebration at our home for the last two- three days. Media persons are thronging my home to interview me,' said Naik.
'I have seen him as a student of kindergarten. He always used to be very calm and simple,' Naik said. PTI DC KRK KRK