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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Sukhbir picks Goa for April 4-7 'chintan' conclave

Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, March 22, 2013
First Published: 23:46 IST(22/3/2013) | Last Updated: 14:02 IST(23/3/2013)

Jathedars brainstorming on the beach! That's exactly what US-educated Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal has decided for his salt-and-pepper-beard-sporting leaders, who will head for Goa in April a haven for honeymooners.

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This much-sought-after four-day sojourn, beginning on April 7, has already triggered an animated discussion in the SAD camp, though in hush-hush tones.

All SAD legislators and even those who lost in the 2012 assembly elections would go to Goa. For the 'chintan' conclave, to be held in a high-end hotel, the SAD chief has also invited MLAs of its coalition partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). All BJP candidates who lost the last elections will also be members of the 120-odd touring party. State BJP president Kamal Sharma and national general secretary Ajay Jamwal are among the invitees as well.

"All MPs of the SAD-BJP alliance will also take part in the conclave," a SAD leader said.

In keeping with Sukhbir's 'out-of-the-box thinking' and keenness to run the over 90-year-old party like a company's chief executive officer, a five-star hotel in Shimla had hosted a party conclave in 2009.

His critics were quick to remind him that as per the party's tradition, the conclave should have been held in a gurdwara. "If we have to take on our contemporary political parties, we need to change our strategy and mindset," Sukhbir had said.

Sources said all delegates would fly from Chandigarh on April 7, attend sessions on April 8-9 and return on April 10. This is the first time that the Punjab BJP leadership will also take part in the deliberations," said a party source.

Party stalwarts such as chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa will lend an ear to the grouses or suggestions of SAD-BJP MLAs and the unsuccessful poll candidates. "The leaders will take stock of programmes' and policies' implementation, hurdles and review of policies," a SAD leader said.

As the restructuring of the SAD is on the cards, a decision will be taken during this conclave to rehabilitate SAD-BJP leaders by appointing them as chairpersons or vice- chairpersons of various boards and corporations.

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