On their party patriarch Prakash Singh Badal’s 94th birthday, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Wednesday uploaded a documentary to their Facebook page chronicling Badal’s political journey. The documentary, which lists out the array of initiatives for various sections of society and his story from being a village sarpanch to a five-time Chief Minister, comes just months before the assembly polls.
The 20-minute-long documentary ‘Punjab Da Dardi (Sympathiser of Punjab)’ was made during the run up to the 2017 Assembly elections in Punjab and has been re-plugged.
After a long hibernation, senior Badal has once again become active in Akali politics as the polls inch closer. The Lambi constituency in Muktsar district, which he currently represents as a legislator, is among the six seats where SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal is yet to announce candidates.
Senior party leaders have been mooting for senior Badal’s candidature and asserting that if his health allows, the nonagenarian would contest again. In an alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), SAD will contest 97 of the 117 assembly seats in the upcoming polls. Sukhbir has already announced names of the candidates in 91 seats.
The documentary points out how Badal, who started his political journey from being a sarpanch in Kheowali village and block samiti president to the Chief Minister of Punjab five times, had the distinction of being the only political leader to be the youngest and the oldest CM. If he enters the poll fray this time too, he will probably be the oldest candidate in Punjab.
It praises Badal for leading Punjabi suba morchas or andolans and mentions that due to sacrifices and struggle by SAD, Punjab was carved out in 1966 on the basis of its mother tongue Punjabi.
The documentary showers praise on Badal for working for the interest of gurdwaras in Delhi and during the Emergency and having spent “a long time in jail to protect the interests of Punjabis”.
It stresses that during the Emergency “SAD was only a regional party which put a morcha against the dictatorship. As per political analysts, the man behind the morcha was Badal under whose leadership 43,000 Sikhs courted arrest.”
“There could be no bigger example of sacrifice that Badal refused to avail parole granted to him to attend his daughter’s wedding,” the documentary says.
The documentary also credits Badal for leading Punjab to a new era of development by starting the Atta Dal scheme, providing free education for the children of Dalits and the poor, the Shagun scheme, pension and providing 200 units of power free to the Dalit community, besides a number of other initiatives started during his tenures, including Sangat Darshan programmes to “address basic problems of the people” and Sewa Kendras.
The documentary which ends with wishes to Badal on his birthday also shows Badal reading out a resolution in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha against the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal in 2016.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa wishes Badal
Former Akali leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who recently joined BJP, wished Badal on his birthday. In a tweet Wednesday, Sirsa wrote, “Bday greetings to S. Parkash Singh Badal Ji who has earned massive respect all across India for his commitment to developing Punjab and spreading Punjabiyat. I wish he continues to inspire every Punjabi. May Waheguru bless you with health & happiness.”