Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (April 26) paid floral tribute to five-time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) office in Chandigarh. Badal died on Tuesday aged 95.
Scores of people and political leaders assembled to pay homage to the SAD patriarch. Badal had not been keeping well and was admitted to the Fortis Hospital in Mohali on April 16 after he complained of uneasiness in breathing.
The Punjab government has declared a holiday on Thursday (April 27) as a mark of respect to the former chief minister. According to an official order, all government offices, departments, boards, corporations, and educational institutions in the state will remain shut on Thursday.
The central government has already announced two days of state mourning on April 26 and 27 across India.
The mortal remains of Badal, who straddled Punjab politics for over seven decades, were brought to the party head office in an ambulance.
Former Haryana chief minister OP Chautala struggled to hold back tears as he paid his last respects to the SAD patriarch. The Chautalas and the Badals, the two powerful political families in Haryana and Punjab, respectively, have long-standing ties. Badal was a close friend of former deputy prime minister Chaudhary Devi Lal.
Also read: Parkash Singh Badal, 5-time Punjab CM, dies at 95; two-day national mourning announced
Mortal remains to be taken to village
After arriving in Chandigarh, Modi reached the SAD office accompanied by Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
He laid a wreath on the mortal remains of Badal and then sat beside SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal. The prime minister was seen holding the hands of Sukhbir Singh Badal, expressing grief over the passing away of the SAD chief’s father. Modi spent a few minutes at the SAD office.
Former Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi and Patiala MP Parneet Kaur, the wife of Amarinder Singh, also paid homage to the departed soul. Badal’s son-in-law Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, grandson Anantvir Singh Badal, Bikram Singh Majithia, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Harjinder Singh Dhami, and BSP leader Jasvir Singh Garhi were also present at the SAD head office.
Union Minister Som Parkash and former minister Balbir Singh Sidhu expressed condolences to Sukhbir Singh Badal at the private hospital where the former Punjab chief minister breathed his last. Former minister Manpreet Singh Badal, the estranged nephew of senior Badal, was also present.
Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Haryana Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, and Congress leader Lal Singh were among the leaders who reached the SAD office to pay their floral tributes.
Grief-stricken party supporters stood in queues at the SAD headquarters to have a glimpse of their leader for the last time. The mortal remains of the SAD patriarch will be kept at the party head office for people to pay their tributes to the departed soul.
Badal’s mortal remains will be taken to his native village Badal in Muktsar later on Wednesday via Rajpura, Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Rampura Phul, and Bathinda. The cremation will take place at Badal village at 1 pm on Thursday, a party leader said.
Senior Akali leader Balwinder Singh Bhundar said Badal’s death was the biggest loss for the country.
Badal’s political career
The grand old man of Punjab politics first became chief minister in 1970, heading a coalition government that did not complete its term. He was also the chief minister in 1977-80, 1997-2002, 2007-12, and 2012-2017.
Born on December 8, 1927, in Abul Khurana near Malout, Badal graduated from Forman Christian College in Lahore. His first political posts were the sarpanch of Badal village and the chairman of the block samiti.
He entered the state Assembly from Malout in 1957 as a Congress nominee. In 1969, he won the Gidderbaha Assembly seat on a SAD ticket. When Gurnam Singh, the then chief minister, defected to the Congress in 1970, the SAD regrouped and formed government with the support of the Jana Sangh.
Badal became the youngest chief minister in the country. However, the coalition government lasted a little more than a year. In 2017, when he ended his last stint as chief minister, he was among the oldest to have held that post.
Badal was re-elected in the 1972 elections, but as the SAD could not form the government, he became the leader of the Opposition. He was chief minister for 15 months in 1970-71 and for 32 months in 1977-1980.
During the 1977 elections, he again won from the Gidderbaha constituency and became the chief minister of the SAD-Janata Party government. He was again elected to the state Assembly in June 1980 and September 1985 elections from the Gidderbaha assembly constituency.
Badal, after shifting to the Lambi constituency, was elected legislator in 1997 and became the chief minister on February 12 that year as the leader of the SAD-BJP government.
During this tenure, his government took the decision of providing free electricity and waiving land revenue for farmers. Badal was re-elected from the Lambi seat in 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017.
In 1967, he lost the Gidderbaha seat to Congress Harcharan Singh Brar by a margin of just 57 votes. This was his first electoral loss. The second came last year when lost to AAP candidate Gurmeet Singh Khuddian.
(With agency inputs)