Updated: January 29, 2022 9:51:32 am
It was in 1957 when Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal fought his first Assembly election from Malaut aged 29. Now 94 years old, Badal senior is once again set to fight his thirteenth poll battle to enter the Punjab Assembly from Lambi. After SAD announced his candidature on Wednesday, party workers inaugurated a poll office at Lambi village and organised Sukhmani Sahib path to pray for his victory.
Badal senior’s political secretary and cousin, Major Bhupinder Singh Dhillon, inaugurated the party office along with other relatives Lalli Badal, Bobby Badal and party workers.
The former CM had celebrated his 94th birthday on December 8th last year and this will be his 13th Assembly poll as per the election records.
He had won his Malaut election in 1957, but on a Congress ticket. After that, he contested all other polls as an Akali candidate. From 1967- 1985, he contested six times from Gidderbaha constituency, which is adjacent to Lambi and won it five times. The 1992 elections were boycotted by Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) . From 1997 onward, he started contesting from Lambi and has never lost. The 2022 election will be his 6th Assembly poll from Lambi.
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So far, he has lost only one election — in 1967 from Gidderbaha to Congress’s Harcharan Singh Brar by mere 57 votes.
Badal senior had earlier been saying that he was yet to make up his mind about fighting polls, while his daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is Bathinda MP, accompanied him to tour villages in December.
Harsimrat would tell the crowds: “To convince Badal Saheb to contest elections, you all repose trust in him that you will make him win. Sukhbir ji (Sukhbir Singh Badal) will be your CM but Badal Saheb will be your ‘super CM’.”
There are a total of 71 villages in this constituency, which is a 100% rural constituency.
Badal senior started touring the area from December last week and by January 8, he had toured all the 71 villages.
“Now, he is recovering from Covid…but we all are here to campaign for him,” said Ranjodh Singh Lambi,” a Youth Akali Dal leader from Lambi constituency.
During the pandemic, Badal mostly avoided venturing out to visit villages in his constituency. He has otherwise been known for visiting almost every house in his constituency to condole deaths or to enquire about health of sick persons and even to congratulate people on their happy occasions at regular intervals. Though Badal was born in Abul Khurana village of Malaut constituency, his family got settled in Badal village and that’s how Badal surname got attached to his name.
Badal started his journey as a village sarpanch in 1947 and later became Block Samiti chairman. A five-time CM, Badal senior became CM for the first time in 1970 and he was the youngest CM of Punjab at 43. In 2012, he was the oldest CM of Punjab aged 84. He remained CM from 1970-71, 1977-80, 1997-2002, 2007-2012 and 2012-2017. In 2015, he got Padma Vibhushan, but returned it in 2020 to protest against the farm laws. His native village, Badal is also in the same constituency where the family has a huge mansion.
Apart from Akali Dal cadre, Harsimrat Badal has also been visiting Lambi villages on a regular basis to campaign for father-in-law and her son, Anantbir Singh Badal, has also been seen in many social functions since the first week of January.
“Badal Senior is expected to visit the area after few days. We all are here to campaign for him,” Ranjodh added.
His political opponents in the contest are Gurmeet Singh Khuddian from AAP and Jagpal Singh Abul Khurana from Congress. Khuddian recently shifted from Congress to AAP. However, both Jagpal as well as Gurmeet will be contesting their first election against a seasoned politician. Khuddian said, “Everyone is welcome to contest polls, but this time people are looking for a change to move away from the old parties whom they gave many chances.”
During his recent tour of villages, Badal senior mostly gave speeches while sitting in a chair, but he is still quick in answering queries and interacting with masses in general. “At 94, he will be the oldest candidate to contest Assembly polls in the state,” said his supporter in Lambi.
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