Parkash Singh Badal was a prominent Indian politician and one of the most powerful Sikh leaders worldwide. He served as the Chief Minister of Punjab for five times and also holds the record of being the oldest Chief Minister of any Indian State. He was a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) political party and played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of Punjab. He passed away on 25 April 2023 at the age of 95 in a private hospital in Mohali.
Early Life and Education
Parkash Singh Badal was born on 8 December 1927 in Abul Khurana, Punjab, British India, into a family of landowning farmers. He belonged to the Dhillon Jat clan. He received his early education in Punjab and later attended Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree.
In 1947, Parkash Singh Badal began his political career when he became Sarpanch of Badal Village. Later, he was elected as the chairman of Lambi Block Samiti. In 1957, he was elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for the first time as a member of the Indian National Congress.
He was appointed as the Minister for Community Development, Panchayati Raj, Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries in the Punjab Government in 1969.
From 1969 to 2012, Parkash Singh Badal was reelected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly repeatedly, except for 1992 when SAD boycotted the elections.
In 1972, 1980, and 2002, he was the Leader of the Opposition. In March 1970, he became the Chief Minister of Punjab for the first time at the age of 43. He was the youngest Chief Minister of any Indian State at that time.
In 1977, he became a Union Minister (Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation) in Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s government. He served his full term as the Chief Minister of Punjab from 1997 to 2002 for the first time.
In 2012, he became the Chief Minister of Punjab for the fifth time. He was also the President of SAD from 1996 to 2008.
Parkash Singh Badal had a controversial political career.
- He spent 17 years in jail, including during the Internal Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi Government in 1975-77, where he was imprisoned for a civil liberty agitation.
- In 1980, he was put in jail during the Dharam Yudh Morcha Days of Punjab. He courted controversy when he publicly tore the Constitution of India.
- In 2003, corruption charges were filed against him and his family, but they were acquitted of charges in 2010.
Parkash Singh Badal was married to Surinder Kaur Badal in 1959, who died in 2011 after a long illness due to cancer. The couple had two children, Sukhbir Singh Badal, a politician, and Preneet Kaur, a member of the Indian National Congress.
Honors and Awards
In 2015, the Government of India awarded him the second highest civilian award of India- Padma Vibhushan, for his outstanding contribution in the field of public affairs.
On April 25, 2023, Parkash Singh Badal passed away at a private hospital in Mohali. He was 95 years old at the time of his death. His death was mourned by many political leaders and citizens of India. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, tweeted his condolences, saying, “Saddened by the demise of Parkash Singh Badal Ji. He was one of the tallest leaders of our times, who worked tirelessly for the welfare of farmers, and the overall development of Punjab. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this hour of grief.”