There is no rush of meetings. There is no rush of people to meet. Here we are sitting and bonding with one another without any pressure. This is how Deputy Chief Minister and SAD president Sukbir Badal summed up the two day Vichar Sammelan of the Punjabs ruling alliance in Goa.
As the Sammelan came to an end Tuesday,even Sukhbirs father and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also was all praise for the location.
I had opposed the idea initially but now that we are here,the two days have been very fruitful. Everyone is relaxed and since we are here as a family,everyone was able to say what they wanted to say. This might not have been possible in Punjab,where free time is at a premium,Badal said.
So impressed was the CM that he announced that there will be at least two such brainstorming sessions every year,both outside Punjab.
The next sammelan will be held at Hazoor Sahib in Nanded (Maharashtra). Hope you will follow us there too, the chief minister told the reporters later in the evening.
He said that the second day of the sammelan began with a closed door session in the hotels conference hall and lasted till 3 pm. We crystallized various issues that we will be focusing on for the parliamentary polls. It is going to be easy to corner the Congress this time. There are so many issues. The UPA has failed on every front. Be it corruption,inflation,poverty,price rise, he said,even as his son added that We are all geared up for the battle and are eagerly awaiting the day NDA will form the government at the Centre.
Sukhbir echoed Badals views,adding,The BJP is the dominant partner in the NDA and the SAD would respect their prerogative in the matter.
Badal ruled out any re-look at the seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP in Punjab where SAD is the dominant partner.
The chief minister added that the issues facing Punjab were being faced by the other parts of the country too. You talk of our coming to Goa. Is Goa not a part of India? Is the problem of too much of centralisation of power with the government of India not an issue,which Goa has to deal with? he asked.
After the press briefing,the group went to the Goa legislative assembly. It sat in the Assembly for about 20 minutes before leaving for tea with the Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar at his residence.
In the evening,everyone was on his own. Badal,accompanied by Sukhbir and other senior leaders paid obeisance at Gurdwara Sahib Sanqueine. D S Cheema,the partys spokesperson,said he and some other were taking a walk on the beach section of the hotel. We are moon-bathing, he added.
Total expense Rs 30 lakh only!
The SAD Tuesday claimed that to have spent only Rs 30 lakh on the two-day Sammelan in Goa even as Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal clarified that no money was spent from government funds. The individual expenses is going to be not more than Rs 30,000 and this includes the travel and lodging. We have not been told anything about the expenditure but all of us are ready to pay from our own pockets, said DS Cheema,partys spokesperson. The SAD had booked rooms in two Hotel Taj properties. Sources said that more than Rs 10 lakh was spent on the accommodation while another Rs 15 lakh has been spent on the tickets to and from Goa. The Chief Minister and his deputy had reached Goa on a chartered plane of a company that is run by Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia.
No casinos please: Sukhbir
In response to a question from the Goa press,Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal said Punjab was not looking at casinos as an option to boost tourism. We are focusing our attention on Amritsar as a major tourist destination, he said. Last evening the whole group went to dinner at Hotel Casino in Goa though. The hotel is a seven storey place and we had booked the roof top for dinner. The casino is on one of the floors in the hotel. Im not sure if anyone visited it, said H S Bains.