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   I visualise the following scenario at Aurangabad today:.. (September 12, 1986)

I visualise the following scenario at Aurangabad today:

Congress-S and Congress-I men are waiting together, looking exactly alike, as Mr. Gandhi's plane hovers over the town. In the aircraft, a Congress-I official is giving last-minute briefing to Mr. Gandhi: "Sir, though the Congress-S will be merging with the Congress-I, the Congress-I will be known simply as Congress. So the Congress-S will also be known as Congress, you will have to clarify that in your speech."

"Yes, yes, I understand that, and don't you go and foul it up," Mr. Gandhi says. "What does Mr. Pawar become, Congress-S or Congress-I?"

"Mr. Pawar becomes Congress-I, technically speaking, but he actually becomes nothing. That is the whole idea behind this convention, you will have to make it absolutely clear during the speech."

The plane lands at the airport and Mr. Pawar and members of his party greet him. "Welcome to the third convention of the Congress-S, which is the 77th convention of the All India Congress Committee," Mr. Pawar says.

Mr. Gandhi looks a little puzzled and looks around for Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar to explain what is happening to him. Then realises this is a party function and Mani Shankar is not there.

All along the route to the Shivaji Maidan, people are lining the route and shouting Congress-S slogans. Mr. Gandhi waves and acknowledges the ahouting and the cheers. Mr. Pawar sits next to him, approving.

At the venue itself Mr.gandhi and Mr. Pawar hold brief consultations. "Now then," says Mr. Gandhi, "let us finish this fast. As you must have to be in Bombay in another hour-and-a-half to attend another meeting. Let there not be too many speeches from the Congress-I, I mean Congress-s members, I mean speeches from the Congress-I, I mean Congress-S members, I mean, well, whoever you have got here for your convention."

"You will be in Bombay in time," Mr. Pawar assures him. "All you have to do is to announce that the Congress-S and Congress-I are merging in the greater interest of the country and its future. Then I will welcome the merger and all our Congress-S members will felicitate you. You will fly to Bombay as one of us."

Mr. Gandhi looks around for Mr. Romesh Bhandari to consult him on what is happening. Then realises Mr. Bhandari is not likely to be there since he has just joined the Congress-I and is not likely to join the Congress-S.

So he turns around and says to Mr. Pawar: "Whatever you think s best. As you have no doubt read in the papers, I take instant decisions and once an accord is reached, I stick to it."

So Mr. Gandhi goes on the stage and announces that the Congress-I is now Congress-S. It is great day in Mr. Pawar's life.

 
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