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Last Updated : Apr 02, 2019 02:37 PM IST | Source:

Dynasty Watch | The Badals: Electoral might, financial strength and marital ties make them Punjab's first family

Patriarch Parkash Singh Badal has been Punjab CM five times, and continued to win from Lambi constituency since 1969

Atharva Pandit @AtharvaPandit3

The Badal dynasty consists of everything that makes up a political family in India: internal feuds, family businesses, rich history in state politics and a patriarch/satrap who, despite or because of his age, holds a firm grip over the family's dynamics in state and national politics.

The family line started with Raghubar Singh Badal, and then seeps down to Sukhbir Singh Badal, Raghubar's grandchild, via Parkash Singh Badal, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supremo.

From youngest sarpanch to oldest Chief Minister 

Parkash Singh Badal's father was a landlord in the Malwa belt of Punjab when Parkash was born in 1927. Raghubar became the sarpanch of his village in 1960, while his son carried on his legacy by becoming the village head in 1963. This legacy of the Badal family assuming the position of the sarpanch reportedly continued until 1998.

But even before Independence, according to Parkash Badal himself, his father and grandfather were actively involved in the freedom struggle. Parkash Badal, who studied at the FC College, went on to become the youngest sarpanch in India, and then got elected to the Block Samiti.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, when Parkash requested an influential relative, who was a minister, to make him a tehsildar, the relative reportedly told him that he should become someone who appoints tehsildars.

Parkash Singh Badal went on to become someone who appoints ministers in state cabinet, assuming the position as the Chief Minister of Punjab for the first time in 1970. During his first term, Badal led a coalition government along with Jana Sangh, where, observers indicate, the seeds of a future alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were sown. BJP has called SAD one of its oldest allies.

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Parkash Badal has headed Punjab five times, and continued to win from Lambi assembly constituency since 1969, except in 1992, when he boycotted elections. In 2017, Parkash Badal managed to win again, defeating current Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, in what was being pegged as a battle of stalwarts.

Badal, according to observers, has led the state through troubled times, including militancy, by assuming a middle path. He became the oldest chief minister in India in 2016, a year before he was dethroned by Congress.

The politics of business 

The Badals are the one of the most influential families in Punjab, and they have firmed up their influence by marrying into the Majithias and the Kairons, two other powerful dynasties in the state.

Parkash Singh Badal's son, 54-year-old Sukhbir, entered politics in 1996. He was elected to Lok Sabha and has served as a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) as well. Sukhbir has also been a minister for industry during the second regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

While the family has a stake in at least four transport companies — transport being a family business — Parkash Singh lists agriculture as his primary income. Farmers are Badal senior's primary vote bank, and he has been known to hold rallies with farmers even despite his age.

In 2015, the transport business put the Badals in trouble when a teenage girl died and her mother was injured after being molested and thrown off a bus in Monga district. The bus, according to reports, belonged to the Badals, and the chief minister had reportedly offered a bribe to the girl's father to buy his silence.

The Badals have been accused of corruption, malpractices and monopoly due to its transport business before as well.

Sukhbir, with his MBA from California State University, has handled the business while juggling it with politics.

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The Badals entered the Punjab assembly poll arena in 2017 mired in controversies and charges of corruption.

The SAD managed to win only 15 seats, while Congress bagged 77 seats. What was even more humiliating was that new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 20 seats. SAD's partner, BJP, won three seats. In 2012, SAD had won 56 seats while the BJP had won 12.

The Akali Dal also faced internal party problems. Manpreet Singh Badal, the rebel Akali Dal leader who is a minister in the Punjab government, is Sukhbir's cousin. Manpreet was sacked from the party and the government in 2010, reportedly for "acts of indiscipline".

Another family member, Bikram Singh Majithia, brother of Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a Union minister and Sukhbir's wife, has also been bickering. The Majithias have also been publicly put down by Badal Sr, and he had, at the same gathering, put down his son by saying it is the leader that wins elections, not just performance.

Key figures in Badal clan:

Parkash Singh Badal: The Akali Dal patriarch and five-time Chief Minister of Punjab. The youngest sarpanch and the oldest CM in India.

Sukhbir Singh Badal: Parkash's son and former Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab. He has held posts in the state and the central governments, and was also the youngest chief of the party.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal: Union minister in the BJP government and Sukhbir's wife. She comes from the powerful Majithia family of Punjab, and married Sukhbir in 1991.

Bikram Singh Majithia: Currently the president of the SAD youth wing, and formerly a minister in Punjab cabinet. He is Harsimrat's brother.

Manpreet Singh Badal: The estranged Badal, Parkash Singh is his uncle. He was sacked as the Finance Minister of Punjab in 2010. Manpreet retained his ministry in 2017, after Congress government came to power. He had joined Congress in 2016.
First Published on Apr 2, 2019 02:37 pm
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