This could well be termed a sad — even disastrous — end to the six-decade political innings of the untiring warhorse of Punjab’s politics. Five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who on Saturday got re-elected to the legislative assembly for a record 11th time, stumbled at the threshold of his retiring room with the Shiromani Akali Dal suffering its worst debacle in the electoral history of the state.
Going into the history on a winning note — or at least with a face-saving loss — is what the 89-year-old party patron had wanted. The crushing defeat of the party he nurtured and made a success story on the political landscape is a body blow to Badal Sr, a recovery from which will require major surgery.
Known for hiding more than revealing, Badal who had locked himself in his Badal village as the results began unfolding, he attempted to take the defeat head on and not make it look as bad to the world. But, the stalwart doesn’t have age on his side and is unlikely to get another opportunity to change the taste of this worst defeat ever.
Such was the political acumen of Badal that the Akali Dal, once headed by the likes of Master Tara Singh, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, has become synonymous with his clan.
This is now the beginning of a tough phase for his son Sukhbir Singh Badal. It has halted full succession of power, though Sukhbir is already the president of the SAD. Now, knives will be out within the party against Sukhbir. For Sukhbir, this is the first major jolt after 2004 when Akali Dal began tasting success under his leadership.
The Akali Dal was banking on Brand Badal for the third straight win.
Now, Sukhbir Badal will have to wait for at least five years to realise his dream of becoming Punjab’s chief minister. That’s too long a time in politics.