Warhorse Badal, son Sukhbir beat incumbency 1st time in Punjab

Shiromani Akali Dal created history on Tuesday to become the first party ever to retain power in Punjab bucking the anti-incumbency factor.

Last Updated: Mar 06, 2012, 17:19 PM IST

Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal created
history on Tuesday to become the first party ever to retain power
in Punjab bucking the anti-incumbency factor with Parkash
Singh Badal, the grand old man of the state politics, and his
son Sukhbir Singh leading the charge.

And Parkash Singh Badal, who his party says is 84 while
his opponents put him on the wrong side of the nineties, will
have another feather on his pack as the warhorse could become
Chief Minister of the agrarian state for the fifth time.

Punjab was carved out of Haryana in 1966.

Soaking in the historic victory, the ageing SAD patron
maintained that the party`s core committee will take the
decision to choose its leader though Sukhbir said his father
will be the party`s chief ministerial candidate.

Apart from fighting incumbency, the SAD in alliance with
BJP also faced challenges after the party was accused of
corruption and nepotism before dashing the hopes of Congress`s
Amarinder Singh to come back to power.

If the SAD-BJP alliance decides to have Badal senior as
the Chief Minister, he would be in the post for the record
fifth time. He headed full two five-year terms from 1997 and
2007. His other terms were in 1977-1980 and 1970-71.

Badal Sr has given the credit for the alliance victory
to Sukhbir, who succeeded his father as party President in
January 2008 and became deputy Chief Minister a year later
making it the first case of a father and son sharing the two
top posts in the government.

Parkash Singh Badal had unilaterally in January 2009
announced that Sukhbir would become Deputy Chief Minister
taking the alliance partner BJP in the state by surprise. But
the veteran politician that Badal Senior is, he had taken the
senior leadership of the saffron party into confidence to make
it a smooth sailing for his only son.

Armed with an MBA degree from the USA, 50-year-old
Sukhbir had on January 31, 2008 become the youngest Akail Dal
leader to head the ruling SAD- -a party considered by most as
traditional and sticking to orthodox and conventional norms.

Despite Badal Senior`s cousin Mahesh Inder Singh of
Congress and his younger brother Gurdas being in the fray from
the Lambi constituency, the Chief Minister won by a record
margin of 24,739 votes as against the narrow margin of 9,187
votes five years back.

It was for the third time that two Badals were against
each other with the chief minister`s cousin being vanquished.
This time he also had his younger brother Gurdas as an
opponent.

Gurdas, who could get just 5,352 votes, had been put up
People`s Party of Punjab (PPP), formed by his estranged nephew
Manpreet Singh Badal, whose party failed to get any success in
the state.

Badal was Chief Minister for 15 months in 1970-71 and
for 32 months in 1977-1980 without any alliance with the BJP
or its earlier avatars. His third tenure as Chief Minister
from 1997 - first time to complete full five years - was in
alliance with BJP.

Badal graduated from the Christian College, Lahore. He
entered into politics by joining the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)
in 1947. He was first elected Sarpanch of his village
Panchayat and later elected chairman of the Block Samiti.

In 1957, he was elected to the Punjab Assembly from
Malout constituency under the Congress banner as then the SAD
had entered into an agreement to contest the elections on
Congress tickets.

Badal was re-elected from the Gidderbaha assembly
constituency on the SAD nomination during the 1969 mid-term
poll and made Panchayati Raj, Animal Husbandry and Dairying
Minister.

When Gurnam Singh, the then Chief Minister, defected to
the Congress, the SAD members regrouped themselves overnight
and Badal was chosen the leader on March 27,1970 and formed a
ministry with the support of Jan Sangh and the SSP. But owing
to constant squabbles and infighting he advised the state
Governor on June 13, 1971 to dissolve the house.

Badal was re-elected in the 1972 elections, but as the
SAD could not form a government, he became the leader of
opposition.

In the 1977 elections, Badal again won from the
Gidderbaha constituency and headed the SAD-Janta Party
government.

During his tenure, the Punjab Women and Children
Development and Welfare Corporation Bill, 1979 was passed to
ensure development of women and children in the state. He also
introduced the concept of rural development through setting up
of Focal points at various places in the state.

Badal courted arrest during the Dharamyudh Morcha and
"Operation Bluestar" in June 1984 when the army had entered
the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar to flush out militants.

He was again elected to the state assembly in June 1980
and September 1985 elections. He refused to become the Deputy
Chief Minister under Surjit Singh Barnala after the 1985
elections and later quit the party following widening rift.

In 1986, he formed Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and
courted arrest on December 2, 1985 with former SGPC President
Gurcharan Singh Tohra and other leaders and was jailed at
Dehradun.

He was again elected in the 1997 assembly elections from
Lambi and became Chief Minister on February 12, 1997 heading
the SAD-BJP alliance government.

During his third tenure he took the decision of
providing free electricity, water and waiving the land revenue
to the farmers. The completion of the Thein Dam near Pathankot
was another hallmark of his tenure.

Badal was reelected from Lambi in the February 13,2002
general elections but the SAD-BJP alliance failed to get
majority leading to installation of a Congress government with
PPCC President Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister.

Over the years, he has been grooming his son Sukhbir,
who is a Lok Sabha MP and a former Union Minister.

PTI