Parkash Singh Badal was secular, nationalist, says his son and SAD chief Sukhbir


Badal: Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal was a nationalist and secularist who respected all religions and spread the message of peace, harmony and mutual brotherhood, his son and party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said on Thursday.

Addressing a gathering at the “bhog” ceremony, Sukhbir Badal sought forgiveness for “whatever mistakes that may have been committed, inadvertently or otherwise, in the past” by him or his family.

The Akali leader thanked people, leaders across the political spectrum and religious leaders for sharing grief with his family following the death of the SAD patriarch and five-time former Punjab chief minister on April 25.

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Badal, 95, had not been keeping well and was admitted to the Fortis Hospital in Mohali on April 16 after he complained of uneasiness while breathing.

On Thursday, the “bhog” ceremony and “antim ardas” were organised for the veteran leader in his village.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Sukhbir Badal said he had no words to thank the community for showing love to his father and the family.

Speaking about the 70 years of public life of Parkash Singh Badal, the SAD chief said his father was a nationalist.

“He always said the country is strong if Punjab and ‘Khalsa Panth’ is strong.”

“He was secular,” Sukhbir Badal said, adding his father always walked on the path shown by the Sikh gurus.

He also followed the message of “sarbat da bhala” (welfare of all) and respected all religions.

Sukhbir Badal said his father always gave the message of peace, harmony and mutual brotherhood.

He dedicated his life to serving the farming community and the poor, the SAD chief said.

Sukhbir Badal said he will always try to walk on the path shown by his father.

“I also seek forgiveness from ‘Khalsa Panth’ and Punjabis if I or my family or elders committed any mistake inadvertently or otherwise,” he said.

Addressing the gathering, Indian National Lok Dal chief and former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala said, “We had family relations with Badal sahab. He always gave me love. I learnt a lot from him and kept taking inspiration from him.”

“Today, Badal sahab may not be amongst us, but I want to assure you all that we will follow the path shown by him,” Chautala said, adding the Akali Dal patriarch taught everyone to live in harmony.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Harjinder Singh Dhami also paid tribute to Badal.

He also raised the issue of ‘Bandi Singhs’ (Sikh prisoners) and said it was the wish of the former chief minister that they should be released in his lifetime. Dhami raised this issue in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The issue came up a day after the Supreme Court declined to commute the death penalty of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case.

The SGPC has been seeking the release of the Sikh prisoners who, it claims, continue to be in different jails despite completion of their sentences.

Former Punjab finance minister and Sukhbir Badal’s cousin Manpreet Singh Badal called Badal a protector of rights of farmers and the poor.

Senior SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra said Badal was the father of modern Punjab and had done the most for farmers and weaker sections of society.

Chandumajra also reached out to Manpreet Badal, saying he should “reunite” with Sukhbir Badal.

Manpreet Badal had left the Akali Dal over a decade ago and had formed his own outfit which he later merged with the Congress. However, early this year, he joined the BJP.

Akal Takht Sahib Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said Badal had remained the strongest votary of federalism throughout his life.

“Badal sahab believed strong states would make a strong nation and also felt that undue central interference in state subjects would only weaken the nation,” said the jathedar.

He said the late leader also strongly believed in the importance of regional parties as they best echoed the aspirations of the people.

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( With inputs from )

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