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   A spokesman of the Congress-I was telling me... (February 12, 1986)

A spokesman of the Congress-I was telling me of how Mr. Rajiv Gandhi is going to welcome Mr. Sharad Pawar into the party in Aurangabad.

"On the morning of the grand welcome, all Aurangabad will be decorated with Congress-I flags, buntings, pictures of Rajivji and Sharadji, slogans will be shouted and shehnai played, "the spokesman said.

"I am happy for Mr. Pawar," I said, "he always deserved a nice welcome."

"Yes, said the spokesman. "People from Sharadji's party and our party will be coming to Aurangabad from all over Maharashtra to witness and participate in the welcome ceremony. They will be brought by ST buses, trucks, trains, and they will be housed in schools, colleges, Marathwada university. It is a pity Auragabad does not have a racecourse."

"A pity," I said.

The spokesman continued: "There will be a reception committee to receive all the visitors who will start coming into Aurangabad three days in advance of the ceremony, accompanied by Soniaji and Mani Shankar Aiyarji. They will be flying in direct from New Delhi by a special plane.'

"When will Mr. Pawar arrive? Before or after Mr. Gandhi?" I asked.

"Sharadji will be there one week before the event, he is so eager to join our party that he does not want to miss it on any account," the spokesman said. "But he will not go to the airport to receive Rajivji, the two will meet on the stage at the welcome ceremony. It will be so much more dramatic."

"That it would," I said.

"Doordarshan cameras will show the entire ceremony live, then repeat it at 9.50 p.m. the same evening and again on the following Sunday morning at 11.15 a.m. Mani Shankar Aiyarji will be directing the Doordarshan cameras."

"He is very good," I said.

The spokesman continued: "At the ceremony, there will be two thrones kept on the stage. Rajivji will be sitting on one throne, then, after speeches, he will invite Sharadjit to sit on the throne next to him. Nobody else will be on the stage at that moment, except 185 security men, known as Black Cats."

"It will be an impressive ceremony," I said.

"Yes," said the spokesman. "Then Sharadji will give a speech on Congress culture. The same speech he has been giving all this time that nobody has been listening to or reporting."

"When will Mr. Pawar be made chief minister?" I asked.

"Never," said the spokesman. "After this magnificent welcome ceremony, how can he expect to be also made chief minister! The ceremony is his reward."

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