It is not just his elevation to the top post in the Punjab Congress that is getting Partap Singh Bajwa accolades. It is also his new lean look. By Bajwas own calculation,he is down 20 kgs since November,giving up pleasures of rich Punjabi diet that thrills but kills.
The dinners are strictly vegetarian,all meals low on carbohydrates and none ending with a generous helping of dessert. And it is green tea,which is making up for the Punjabi appetite for few shots of drinks not as humble.
Bajwa,whose appointment marked a generational shift in Punjab Congress - at 56 he is much younger than his predecessor,72-year-old Capt Amarinder Singh - says his tryst with weight loss has been a long one,marked by yearly visits to naturopathy weight loss clinics in Bangalore. I started going to Bangalore in 1998 and had managed to shed 35 kilos. But all of it came back with a vengeance, he says.
The motivation to loose returned owing to his gaining age and demands of politics. If one has to stay in politics,one has to stay fit. In Punjab,we eat like landlords. Our meals are large whereas we should be eating small meals throughout the day. Our dinners are heavy while it is considered ideal if dinner is taken before sunset or at least four hours before sleep. My grandfather was overweight and it created a lot of health problems. Though my health parameters are okay,with gaining age our metabolism rate slows down and losing those kilos would keep becoming difficult, Bajwa says.
And it is not just about making amends to the rich Punjabi diet. His wife,MLA Charanjit Bajwa,says he is regular to the gym and with his walks. When in Delhi,he frequents the Constitution Club which has a gym for MPs. He also goes to the Lodhi Gardens for walks. In Chandigarh,we walk around the house. But on all days he is very particular about what he eats, she says.
While he forbids the many thrills in Punjabi diet,in his speeches,Bajwa prefers to talk of Punjabi pride. It seems Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has not studied history. Even a Mughal tyrant like Aurangzeb could not crush Punjabis,who did not surrender to him. We will take no time to uproot the ruling Badals,who are browbeating our workers and unleashing a reign of police high handedness, he said during his recent coronation.
Among the first few things the new Punjab Congress chiefs office did on his appointment was to mail his new-look pictures to the media ones to be used while carrying his statements. A leaner Bajwa beamed on entry passes for his coronation day and later in his room in Congress office. The grey in his beard is also gone to mark what he calls the generational shift in Congress command in the state and is quick to dish out nuggets on his weight loss to all those who care to ask.