Badal creates two records in one go

Eighty five-year-old SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal today created two records in one go by becoming the chief minister of Punjab for the fifth time and the first in the reorganised state's history to return to power for the second successive tenure

chandigarh Updated: Mar 14, 2012 14:04 IST

Eighty five-year-old SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday created two records in one go by becoming the chief minister of Punjab for the fifth time and the first in the reorganised state's history to return to power for the second successive tenure heading the SAD-BJP alliance ministry.

Badal was sworn in today by Governor Shivraj V Patil as chief minister for a record fifth time after the party in alliance with BJP broke the 46-year old record of reorganised Punjab and became the first government to return to power for the second successive term.

The veteran Akali leader was sworn in as chief minister at Chapar Chiri Banda Bahadur Memorial in Ajitgarh district about 25 km from here today to surpass his earlier record of holding the post for the fourth time five years back.

Badal senior headed full two five-year terms in 1997 and 2007. His other terms were between 1977-1980 and 1970-71. Gopi Chand Bhargava and Partap Singh Kairon of the Congress had held the post thrice. Bhargava was chief minister in 1947, 1949 and 1964 while Kairon headed the regime in 1956, 1957 and 1962.

The SAD-BJP alliance got absolute majority in the 117-member state assembly winning 68 (SAD-56, BJP 12) seats following the elections held on January 30 last.

The opposition Congress which was aiming to form the government failed to achieve the magical number of 59 winning only 46 seats - 13 short of the required numbers.

Badal won from his traditional Lambi seat defeating his cousin Mahesh Inder Singh Badal who was put up by the opposition Congress. It was for the third time that two Badals were against each other with Parkash Singh Badal repeatedly defeating his cousin. This time he also had his
younger brother Gurdas as an opponent.

After the carving out of Haryana from Punjab in 1966 it is for the first time that a party has come back to power for the second time claiming it to be a result of the pro-incumbency wave SAD chief Sukhbir claimed.

This was due to the developmental agenda pursued by the alliance as against the Congress which concentrated on personal attacks, Sukhbir asserted.

SAD in alliance with BJP broke the 46-year-old record of reorganised Punjab and became the first government to come to power for the second successive term on the agenda of development and peace setting aside its traditional Panthic agenda.

In demand of the Panthic agenda Badal senior also went to jail in the eighties and was part of many protests including burning of copies of the constitution in mid 80s during the "Dharam Yudh Morcha" of the Akali Dal.

During the campaigning for the recent assembly elections Badal however clarified that he was against burning of the copies of Article 25 (which included Sikhs among Hindus) of the constitution in front of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib near the Parliament House in New Delhi.

He went there as part of the decision of the SAD then headed by Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, Badal clarified. The issues not taken up during the current election included SAD's demands for the transfer of Chandigarh and of other Punjabi speaking areas and settlement of river water sharing disputes with neighbouring states including Haryana besides its demand for a federal structure with more rights for the states.

Badal senior who is now patron of SAD has given the credit for the alliance's return to power to his son Sukhbir who succeeded him 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.

Badal Senior 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 smooth sailing for his only son.

He was chief minister for 15 months during 1970-71 and for 32 months during 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 the BJP

Hailing from a family of farmers of Badal village in Muktsar district, Badal was born on December 8 1927 and graduated from the Christian College in Lahore.

He stepped 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 over night and Badal was chosen their leader on March 27 1970 and formed a ministry with the support of the Jan Sangh and SSP.

But owing to constant squabbles and infighting he advised the state Governor on June 13 1971 to dissolve the house. In 1997 Badal senior had romped home victorious by a huge margin of 28 728 votes.

Parkash Singh Badal this time got 67,999 votes as compared to 43,260 votes polled by his first cousin Mahesh Inder Singh Badal. Gurdas who could get just 5352 votes had been put up by the People's Party of Punjab (PPP) formed by his estranged nephew Manpreet Singh Badal whose party failed to achieve any success in the state.

In the last election in 2007 the victory margin of Badal had seen a sharp decline. As against 23,929 votes over Mahesh in 2002 he won five years back by a margin of 9,187 votes against the same rival.

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

In the 1977 elections he again won from the Gidderbaha constituency and became the chief minister of the SAD-Janata Party government. During his tenure the Punjab women and children development and welfare corporation bill 1979 was passed and 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 the 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.

Re-elected in the 1997 assembly elections from Lambi he 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 land revenue by farmers. The completion of the Thein Dam near Pathankot was another hallmark of his tenure.

Badal was once again elected 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.

The Akali patriarch has been re-elected this time from the Lambi assembly constituency which is now in Muktsar district.

By now he has groomed his son Sukhbir Singh Badal who is a former union minister. But for the moment Badal junior has ruled out his becoming chief minister saying his father had the experience and vision to take Punjab forward.

First Published: Mar 14, 2012 14:01 IST