Comeback king Badal on cloud 9

After crafting a surprise victory and a second term for the SAD-BJP combine, he is poised to be the CM for a record fifth time. Manpreet Randhawa reports. Party position | Leader profile | Badals beat pundits, incumbency, history | Development card clicks as SAD returns | Told to simply reach two digits, BJP delivers
Hindustan Times | By Manpreet Randhawa, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2012 03:32 AM IST

At the age of 84, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal continues to be a force to reckon with in Punjab politics.

After crafting a surprise victory and a record second term for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine, he is poised to be the chief minister of the state for a record fifth time.

Badal had entered the field in 1947. Ten years later, at the age of 25, he won his first assembly polls on a Congress ticket, following a political arrangement between the Akalis and the Congress.

Born on December 8, 1927, Badal attended Foreman's Christian College in Lahore, from where he picked up a degree in Bachelor of Arts.

The grand old man of Punjab politics rose from the grassroots - the first position he won was that of a village sarpanch.

The high point in Badal's political career came when he became chief minister for the first time in 1970. But it lasted for just a few months.

Suave, astute and with an abundance of political acumen, Badal showed he was the consummate survivor.

After the Emergency, he became the chief minister again in 1977.

His career graph stalled in the nearly 15 years of terrorism in Punjab, when the state had to be placed under President's Rule.

In 1997, when he became the chief minister again, he was plagued by a liver ailment. His detractors within the party began hoping for the worst.

But he returned - only to fracture his hip on the eve of the 2002 elections, in which he was voted out.

Many of his friends and foes had written him off when former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh put him behind the bars on charges of corruption.

However, Badal led the SAD-BJP combine to victory in the February 2007 assembly polls and was sworn in as the chief minister for a fourth time.

This time, early on, Badal had said the 2012 assembly polls in Punjab would be his last. And he had demanded another chance from his voters.

Punjab, obviously, is in no mood to let him go.

Story Saved