Parkash Singh Badal, five-time former chief minister of Punjab and patriarch of Akali Dal, died on Tuesday at a private hospital in Mohali. He turned 95.
The death was confirmed by his son’s personal assistant and party chairman Sukhbir Singh Badal.
“Mr. Badal passed away around 8pm,” hospital director Abhijeet Singh told PTI news agency.
The former prime minister was admitted to Fortis Hospital in Mohali a week ago after complaining of discomfort in breathing.
The leader climbed the political ladder and served as village paranch before running for the first time as a congressman in 1957, when he was 30 years old.
Parkash Singh Badal was the youngest chief minister ever to hold office in the state of Punjab. He was 43.
In a career spanning more than seven decades, he lost only two elections – one in 1967 and the latest in the 2022 Punjab parliamentary election. The loss in Punjab was particularly acute as he lost his stronghold of Lambi, which he had ruled for decades.
He pleaded for arrest during Operation Bluestar in June 1984, when the army had entered the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar to flush out militants.
Parkash Singh Badal returned his Padma Vibhushan award – the second highest civilian honor in the country which he received from the government in 2015 – in protest at the central government’s treatment of the protesting farmers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes to the Punjab leader, calling him a “colossal figure of Indian politics and a remarkable statesman”.
Very saddened by the passing of Shri Parkash Singh Badal Ji. He was a colossal figure in Indian politics and a remarkable statesman who contributed much to our nation. He worked tirelessly for the progress of Punjab and anchored the state in critical times. pic.twitter.com/scx2K7KMCq
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 25, 2023
“Extremely saddened by the passing of Shri Parkash Singh Badal Ji. He was a colossal figure of Indian politics and a remarkable statesman who contributed much to our nation. He worked tirelessly for the progress of Punjab and anchored the state in critical times, Prime Minister Modi tweeted, along with a photo of himself with the veteran leader.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh called the veteran leader’s death a “personal loss”.
Shri Prakash Singh Badal ji was a political stalwart who played an important role in Punjab politics for decades. In his long political and administrative career, he has made several notable contributions to the well-being of farmers and other weaker parts of our…
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) April 25, 2023
Parkash Singh Badal was born in Abul Khurana in Punjab, close to the border with Rajasthan, and studied at Forman Christian College in Lahore.