Eighty-nine-year-old Parkash Singh Badal’s dream of becoming the chief minister of Punjab thrice in a row and the sixth time overall will remain unfulfilled. The Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch failed to see his party through in the crucial polls with anti-incumbency, alleged corruption in the running of Sikh institutions and drug menace seen as possible causes of its rout. Badal was hoping to do a Partap Singh Kairon or a Gopi Chand Bhargava — becoming the chief minister of the border state for a third successive term. Had he won, he would have also become the chief minister for the sixth time. The SAD was also eyeing to become the first party to come back to power for the third successive time after the division of Punjab in 1966.
Born on December 8, 1927, Badal graduated from the Christian College, Lahore. He entered politics by joining the SAD in 1947 and was elected sarpanch of his village panchayat and later 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.
He 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 the Opposition.
Badal was chief minister for 15 months in 1970-71 and for 32 months in 1977-1980.
His third tenure as chief minister from 1997 – first time to complete full five years – was in alliance with the BJP.
During the 1977 elections he again won from the Gidderbaha constituency and became the chief minister of 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 re-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.
Though he has groomed son Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is a former Union minister and also the outgoing deputy chief minister, Badal Junior had ruled out becoming chief minister saying his father had the experience and the vision to take Punjab forward.