The fun run that took off on Sunday broke for a massively curtailed session on Monday, only to throw up some age-old ideas yet again, as the SAD and BJP's leaders from Punjab continued with their sun-sand-and-beaches Goa vacation, otherwise being called a 'vichar manthan' (thought-churning) conclave.
So apart from the four hours spent in discussion with nothing to show for it, the politicians' time was devoted to, among other destinations, Sinquerim Beach famous for sunbathers. As soon as the bronze morning kissed the shore, a beeline of "fun-starved" leaders from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from their twin luxury resorts perched on the Aguada beach cliff.
Fresh air and fitness drills aside, their chief concern was the unwanted presence - or, sad absence -- of bikini-clad tourists as photojournalists went about documenting the leaders' sojourn.
The lure was such that the delegation - over 120-strong -- cut the introspection session to a four-hour affair, devoting the rest of the time to "much-needed fun" after notching up "so many electoral victories". The original plan was two marathon sessions on Monday and another on Tuesday. But it was all packaged in presentations by deputy CM and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, the chief mover for the trip, followed by another round of presentations by the cabinet ministers.
FIT TO LEAD?
Sukhbir remained invisible, and leading the Akali jogging camp was Nakodar MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala, while BJP's Som Parkash held a 'yoga shivir' for disciples that included minister Surjit Kumar Jayani, Deep Malhotra, Arunesh Shakir, Raj Khurana and Rattan Singh Ajnala.
But Jyani's attention was elsewhere. "Why don't you click pictures of our leaders passing by…?" his incomplete sentence but twinkling eyes referring to sunbathers dressed appropriately for the beach.
But Akali stalwarts Prem Singh Chandumajara and Balwinder Singh Bhunder were extra cautious during their brisk walk, with Chandumajra requesting the HT photographer that bikini-clad women shouldn't figure in the background. "Don't worry," Bhunder ribbed the former professor: "Look at our flowing white beards. No one will believe …"
In fact, Bhunder gave early-morning indications that the 'chintan' was secondary: "It will be just one session on Monday. Let people have fun. After all you don't come to such places often!" Chandumajara nodded, much to the delight of the younger lot.
Similar sentiments were echoed at the BJP-led 'yoga shivir'. "We have switched our phones off. Back home people begin flocking to our houses at dawn," said Som Parkash.
Another leader insisted, "Our informal discussions are also churning. What we discuss in the flight, taking a walk or at dinner is all about the people of Punjab."
For Deep Malhotra, on top of his agenda were "watersports in the afternoon". But the four-hour session proved tiring - what with the yawn-inducing gloating and the bloated data - so he and his mates chose to visit the churches, so to speak.