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Parkash Singh Badal cremated at ancestral village

Leaders across the political spectrum paying their last respects to the five-time chief minister

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BADAL (PB), April 27 (PTI): Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal was cremated with full state honours at his ancestral village in Punjab’s Muktsar district on Thursday with thousands of mourners and leaders across the political spectrum paying their last respects to the five-time chief minister.

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal lit the funeral pyre at a special platform erected for the last rites.

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Badal’s mortal remains were taken to the family’s farmland, around a kilometer from his residence, on a flower-decked tractor-trolley with his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and other family members standing with folded hands as the vehicle moved past the mourners on the route.

Overcome by emotions, Sukhbir Badal and his sister Parneet Kaur Kairon broke down before the body was consigned to flames. Badal died at a private hospital in Mohali on Tuesday, nine days after being admitted there with breathing problems.

People from all walks of life including politicians and religious leaders turned up at the village to pay tribute to the leader whose political career began seven decades ago when he became the sarpanch of Badal panchayat.

BJP president J P Nadda, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference’s Omar Abdullah visited Badal village to pay their last respects. Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann were also among the mourners.

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Heavy security arrangements were made in the village in view of the visits by the political leaders.

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, senior BJP leader Tarun Chugh, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, and former union minister Praful Patel also paid homage to the former chief minister.

Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Congress leader Deepender Hooda, Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and former Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa also attended the last rites.

In the morning, the mortal remains were kept for the last ‘darshan’ at his residence. People in huge numbers queued up there to pay tribute and express grief.

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Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal could be seen in tears as people visited their residence and offered them condolences. Their two daughters and a son also stood beside the mortal remains.

Former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Parkash Singh Badal’s estranged nephew and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia were also present among other leaders.

The grand old man of Punjab politics first became chief minister in 1970, heading a coalition government that did not complete its term. He served as chief minister in 1977-80, 1997-2002, 2007-12 and 2012-2017.

He became MLA 11 times, losing an election for the state assembly only twice. In 1977, he joined Morarji Desai’s government briefly as the Agriculture minister at the Centre.

In 2008, Badal handed over the reins of the SAD, which he had headed from 1995, to son Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also became the deputy chief minister under him.

Born on December 8, 1927 in Abul Khurana near Malout, Badal graduated from the Forman Christian College in Lahore.  He entered the state assembly from Malout in 1957 as the Congress nominee. In 1969, he won the Gidderbaha assembly seat on the SAD ticket.

Badal’s wife Surinder Kaur Badal died of cancer in 2011. They had two children – Sukhbir Singh Badal, the heir to his political legacy, and Parneet Kaur, who is married to former minister Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon. SAD chief Sukhbir Badal’s wife is Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

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