An era in Punjab politics is over as SAD patriarch and five-time CM Badal passes away

“He passed away around 8 pm,” hospital director Abhijeet Singh said. The hospital issued a medical bulletin that explained his health issues.
Parkash Singh Badal (File photo| PTI)
Parkash Singh Badal (File photo| PTI)

CHANDIGARH: The passing away of former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal at 95 years of age marks the end of an era in state politics.

Punjab has lost a great reconciler who believed in building bridges as SAD’s architect. Born on december 8, 1927, Badal, who spent more than 75 years in public life, passed away at a private hospital in Mohali today evening at a private hospital.

He was suffering from breathing problems and was hospitalized for some days. A few years back, Prime Minister narendra Modi had called Badal the ‘nelson Mandela of india’ as Badal went to jail many times during various morchas (movements) and also during the emergency.

Badal always batted for federalism. As an astute politician, Badal reigned over the state political landscape for seven decades as he forged an alliance with Jan Sangh and later with the BJP. The SAD-BJP alliance continued for years and broke in 2021 over the scrapped farm laws. He was the first person to support the Vajpayee-led ndA government in 1996.

Badal’s journey in politics started when he was 20 years old. He was elected as the youngest sarpanch of his native Badal village. An 11-time MlA, Badal remained CM for five times. He lost only two assembly elections after the bifurcation of Punjab in november 1966: in 1967 from the gidderbaha, where he was defeated by Harcharan Singh Brar of Congress and thereafter in last year’s assembly election, where he lost his lambi seat to first-timer gurmeet Singh Khudian of AAP.

As a politician, Badal weathered the emergency crackdown as well as the decade-long militancy in the 1980s. He became the youngest CM of the state in 1970 at the age of 42 years and remained in the chair for 14 months. Then in 2012, he became the oldest Chief Minister in the country at the age of 84 years. He has also held the record of becoming the CM of Punjab for five times from 1970-71, 1977-80, 1997-2002, 2007- 12, and 2012-17.

Besides, he remained a member of the lok Sabha once and served as the Union agriculture minister briefly. “An era of Akali politics is over. He personified the politics of moderation in the militancy and post-militancy phases. The politics he chose after militancy is much more relevant in the contemporary times,’’ says Prof Kuldeep Singh, a political analyst.

He was conferred with Padma Vibhushan in 2015, which he returned in 2020 to protest against the scrapped farm laws. He was also honoured with Path rattan Faqr-eQaum (Jewel of the Panth Pride of the Community) in 2011 but various Sikh organisations kept demanding that Badal be stripped of this title.

The people who knew him closely said that he knew at least one person from every family in his constituency and called him by his name. Badal is survived by his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the SAd president and is married to MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Badal played a significant role in Punjab’s politics for decades and made several noteworthy contributions towards the welfare of farmers and other weaker sections of the society.

“In his long political and administrative career, he made several noteworthy contributions towards the welfare of farmers and other weaker sections of our society,” he said.

The Fortis Hospital Mohali, where Badal was admitted on April 16, 2023, said he had acute exacerbation of bronchial asthma. He was shifted to the medical ICU on April 18 as his respiratory condition worsened.

“He had been on NIV (non-invasive ventilation) and HFNC (high-flow nasal cannula) support along with medical management. He was being managed under Prof (Dr) Digambar Behera along with the Pulmonology and critical care team supported by Cardiology,” it said. “Despite appropriate medical management, S Parkash Singh Badal succumbed to his illness. Fortis Hospital Mohali deeply condoles the death of S Parkash Singh Badal,” the bulletin said.

Badal had been in the ICU of the hospital and doctors were closely monitoring his health condition. Hospital sources said that his health condition suddenly deteriorated during the day on Tuesday.
Badal was born on December 8, 1927 in Abul Khurana, near Malout. He belonged to a Jat Sikh family. Badal graduated from the Forman Christian College in Lahore.

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The New Indian Express