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   Yesterday, as Mr. Sharad Pawar swung over the Indian Ocean... (July 22, 1991)

Yesterday, as Mr. Sharad Pawar swung over the Indian Ocean on a jack-stay, swinging from naval ship to naval ship, the following thoughts raced through his mind:

"What am I doing here, at my age, swinging from a rope. I hope this thing does not break. All I wanted to be was a prime minister. How have I got myself into this situation! It must be a nightmare. Yes, that must be it. Soon my wife will wake me up and I will find I am in bed at Varsha, still the chief minister of Maharastra. All a bad dream.

"And that Sudhakar (Naik), looking so smug, sitting in my chair. He has no business to be there; if I did not want to be a prime minister, he would not have been there. I still do not know how I have come to this position, things have happened so fast. I thought the time had come at last to make my bid to become the prime minister. After all, I had waited long enough.

"And all my industrialist friends told me I should make the bid: Dhiubhai and Adi and Sule and the Kirloskar and Dahanukar and Piramal. Even Busybee was writing all the time that I was the next prime minister of India. And Suresh Kalmadi encouraged me so much. He said he had cleared the decks for me in Delhi and everything was ready for me there. All I had to do was go there and drop a hint that I wanted to be prime minister and they would make me. Instead, they have made me defence minister.

"They said it is a very senior post. What is senior about it? Home minister would have been better, or finance minister, not this, swinging on a rope. I hope I don't fall in the water, though they have assured me if I fall, I will float. And it is so cold, with the wind and the spray of water and the rains. As cold as it was when I went to insepct the troops in the snow mountains. That time I almost froze to death. I never thoughts to becoem prime minister I would have to freeze to death. I was quite happy being chief minister of the most industrially-developed state in the country. I had my political base, and all my builder friends, and my plan to build ocassions in the sea. It wasn't a bad job. Drive to Raj Bavan, get into a helicopter and fly to Baramati. Or fly to English via Australia to meet NRIs. Now, what is there! Just see ships and mountains. And how can you form your political base if you have to spend all your time meeting these military officers! This is not what I had visualised when I had set out to be the prime minister.

"This jack-stary is trapped too tight to my stomach, it hurts. And I have cramps in my feet, like I have every time I have to stand there taking salutes at parades. The defence minister's job must be the most difficult job in the country…and the least rewarding. I must have lost at least ten kilos since the day I decided I was going to be prime minister. Right now I am exactly half way between two ships, hanging by a rope. It is a crisis situation in my life."

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