At 94, Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal is oldest candidate to contest polls - Hindustan Times
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At 94, Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal is oldest candidate to contest polls

ByVishal Joshi
Feb 01, 2022 06:39 AM IST

Five-time former Punjab CM files papers from Lambi constituency for the sixth consecutive time, pitted against novice opponents

At 94, Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal became India’s oldest person to contest elections when he filed his nomination papers from his home constituency of Lambi in Muktsar district on Monday.

Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal after submitting his documents to the returning officer in Malout town on Monday. (HT Photo)
Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal after submitting his documents to the returning officer in Malout town on Monday. (HT Photo)

Also read: Punjab elections: Sukhbir Badal files nomination from Jalalabad

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Badal hopes to retain the Lambi seat for the sixth consecutive time. He has been representing the predominantly rural constituency since 1997.

An 11-time MLA, Badal is pitted against all novice opponents, namely Gurmeet Singh Khuddian of the Aam Aadmi Party, Jagpal Singh Abul Khurana of the Congress and Rakesh Dhingra of the BJP.

After submitting his documents to the returning officer in Malout town, Badal said he was confident of winning with a thumping majority. “After more than 75 years in public life, elections are routine. I don’t see any challenge from the opponents as I have the support of the voters in my home turf,” he said.

Set for 13th electoral battle

This will be his 13th electoral battle since he won the Malout seat in the undivided Punjab assembly election of 1957.

The grand old man of Punjab politics also has the distinction of being the state’s chief minister for a record five times since 1970.

He first took oath as chief minister at the 42 years in 1970, becoming the youngest Punjab CM.

In 2012, at the age of 84, Badal was sworn in as the oldest CM of the state. It was his fifth innings as the chief minister.

Switched from Congress to Akali camp

An affluent agriculturist, Badal began his political career as the sarpanch of his native Badal village in the year of India’s independence.

He remained an activist of the Congress and won from Malout as a Congress candidate in 1957. Then he switched loyalty to the Akali camp.

According to Election Commission archives, after the bifurcation of Punjab in November 1966, Badal contested the first election of divided Punjab in 1967 from the Gidderbaha segment as the candidate of the Akali Das Sant (ADS) Fateh Singh group.

He was defeated by Congress candidate Harcharan Singh Brar, who later became Punjab CM, with a wafer-thin margin of 57 votes.

That was the only occasion when Badal tasted an electoral defeat.

Out of 12 assembly elections contested to date, he won 11 times. Since 1969, he has been contesting as the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate.

He represented Gidderbaha from 1965 to 1985 in a row for five terms. Thereafter, he moved to Lambi and won five times in a row again in 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017.

Enters fray after defeating Covid

Even as the party had not announced his candidature, Badal started campaigning in Lambi from December 20. Defying his age, he covered 70 villages of the constituency before contracting coronavirus infection on January 20.

Initially, he was non-committal about contesting the elections but after getting discharged from the hospital last week, Badal said he was jumping into the fray.

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