Former Punjab Chief Minister and veteran Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal passed away on Tuesday, after a brief illness at a private hospital in Mohali.
The 95-year-old Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch was undergoing treatment at the hospital after he complained of uneasiness while breathing.
According to the hospital’s media bulletin, Mr. Badal was admitted to the hospital on April 16 with acute exacerbation of bronchial asthma. He was shifted to the ICU on April 18 as his respiratory condition worsened. Despite appropriate medical management, Mr. Badal succumbed to his illness, the bulletin added.
SAD and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) were alliance partners since the late 1990s, and the long association was credited to Mr. Badal’s political acumen. However, amid the controversy over the farm laws proposed by the Centre, SAD decided to break away from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition in 2020. In an Interview to The Hindu in 2019, Mr. Badal had said, “In Punjab, our alliance is not a political one. It is a guarantee for social and communal harmony. In other States and at the Centre, we follow a common minimum programme. The alliance in Punjab was a historical necessity, considering the challenges to Hindu-Sikh unity and harmony. I think we served and are serving a great cause.”
Mr. Badal, served as Punjab’s Chief Minister five times: 1970-71; 1977-80; 1997-2002 and from 2007 to 2017 (two consecutive terms). He led the party as its president from 1995 to 2008. The Government of India awarded him the second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2015.
Born on December 8, 1927 in Abul Khurana, near Malout, Mr. Badal graduated from the Forman Christian College in Lahore.
In 1970, he became the youngest Chief Minister of an Indian State at the time.
Mr. Badal was first elected to the Punjab State Assembly in 1957. He has been elected an MLA nine times since then.
Soon after his death, condolence messages started to flow.
President Droupadi Murmu, in a tweet, said, “Shri Parkash Singh Badal was one of the tallest political stalwarts since Independence. Though his exemplary career in public service was largely confined to Punjab, he was respected across the country. His demise leaves a void. My heartfelt condolences to his family and admirers.”
Terming Mr. Badal “a colossal figure of Indian politics” and “statesman”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Extremely saddened by the passing away of Shri Parkash Singh Badal ji. He was a colossal figure of Indian politics, and a remarkable statesman who contributed greatly to our nation. He worked tirelessly for the progress of Punjab and anchored the state through critical times.”
“Shri Parkash Singh Badal’s passing away is a personal loss for me. I have interacted closely with him for many decades and learnt so much from him. I recall our numerous conversations, in which his wisdom was always clearly seen. Condolences to his family and countless admirers,” added the Prime Minister.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge expressed deep condolences to the family.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed sadness at the news and said Badal had been a tall leader in politics in Punjab and the country.
Government announces two-day State mourning across India on April 26, 27
PTI adds: The Centre announced two days of State mourning on April 26 and 27 across India in view of the death of Badal.
In a communication to all the states, the Union Home Ministry said Badal died on April 25 and, as a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, the central government has decided that there will be state mourning for two days on April 26 and 27 throughout India.
“On the days of mourning, the national flag will be flown half mast on all buildings where the national flag is flown regularly and there will be no official entertainment on these two days,” the communication said.