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   It is being said that a lot of Congress-I chief ministers... (February 22, 1990)

It is being said that a lot of Congress-I chief ministers have not been keen on Mr. Gandhi visiting their states and compaigning for the party. I met Mr. Sharad Pawar to find out whether this was true.

“Mr. Pawar, is it true you advised Mr. Gandhi not to come on an election tour of Maharastra?” I asked.

“Well, we did not exactly advice him not to come. He is the party president, he can go where he likes. But we told him he should concentrate on Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, these are states that really requires him. Not that we do not require him also, but we have to sacrifice a little for the sake of the party.”

“So you did tell him not to come here,” I said.

“No, not the way you put it,” Mr. Pawar said. “You see, we have to consider how busy he is, apart from managing the affairs of the party, which is not a small job, he has been shifting house. And that takes up a lot of time, first finding a suitable accommodation, then getting it redesigned, then moving all your personal goods, curtains, etc.”

“He could have made an air-dash to Bombay, Nashik, Malegaon, Dhule, Nandurbar, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Pune and back in one day, as he used to do in the old days,” I said.

“We have to be realistic about these things,” Mr. Pawar said. “Mr. Gandhi is not travelling by air force planes any more, he is travelling by Indian Airlines, and, as you know, Indian Airlines cannot take him to all these places in one day. You must have read, the last time he tried he was stuck at Delhi airport only for six hours.”

“What about King Air?” I said. “Mr. Gandhi could travel anywhere he likes in King Air and the MPCC could charter it for him if he is going to campaign for it in Maharastra.”

“Yes, but that plane is only a six-seater, and though Captain Satish Sharma is an experienced pilot, it is not the same thing,” Mr. Pawar said. “So, though we would have loved to have Mr. Gandhi here, campaigning for us, we though it best that he did not take the trouble of coming.”

“But what about all the people in Maharastra who may want to hear Mr. Gandhi’s speched?” I asked.

“They can always read them in Sunday magazine,” Mr. Mani Shankar is writing his speeches there now.”

 
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