New Delhi, Apr 28: "I have lost a father figure," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday while paying glowing tribute to five-time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and recalled the special relationship that he shared with the Akali stalwart.
The 95-year-old Punjab politician breathed his last at Fortis Hospital in Mohali on Tuesday. Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday went to the Shiromani Akali Dal office in Chandigarh and paid his last respects to SAD patron Badal. Expressing grief over the demise of Akali patriarch, PM Modi said in a blog on his website said that he had lost a father figure, who had guided him for decades.
"On the evening of April 25, when I received the news of Sardar Parkash Singh Badal ji's demise, I was filled with immense sadness. In his passing away, I have lost a father figure, someone who guided me for decades. In more ways than one, he shaped India's and Punjab's politics, and that can be described as unparalleled," he said.
"Badal Sahab was a big leader is widely accepted. But, more importantly, he was a big-hearted human being. Being a big leader is easier but being a big-hearted person requires a lot more. People across Punjab say -- there was something very different about Badal Sahab! ('Badal Sahab ki baat alag thi')," read the blog.
Talking about his interaction with Badal in the 1990s when he (PM Modi) was involved in party work in Northern India, the PM writes "I got to closely interact with Badal Sahab in the 1990s when I was involved in party work in North India. Badal Sahab's reputation preceded him -- he was a political stalwart who had been Punjab's youngest Chief Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister and someone who held sway over the hearts of crores of Punjabis across the world. I, on the other hand, was an ordinary karyakarta. Yet, true to his nature, he never let this create a gap between us. He was filled with warmth and kindness. These were traits that remained with him till his last breath. Everyone who interacted closely with Badal Sahab would recall his wit and sense of humour."
"There is an anecdote I can never forget. After taking oath as CM, Badal Sahab told me that we would go to Amritsar together, where we would halt at night and the next day we would pray and have langar. I was in my room at a guest house but, when he got to know of this, he came there and began to pick up my luggage. I asked him why he was doing this, to which he told me that I would have to come with him to the room meant for the CM and stay there only. I kept telling him that there was no need to do this, but he insisted. Eventually, this is exactly what happened and Badal Sahab stayed in another room. I will always cherish this gesture of his towards a very ordinary karyakarta like me," PM said.
Revealing Badal's desire to learn new things as he reached Alang Shipyard in Gujarat when Modi was Gujarat's CM. "Once he told me he wanted to understand what Alang Shipyard was about. Then he came there, spent the entire day at Alang Shipyard, and understood how recycling took place. Punjab is not a coastal state; so, in a way, there was no direct relevance of a shipyard for him but such was his desire to learn new things that he spent the day there and understood different aspects of the sector," PM Modi recalled. The PM said Badal was among the "bravest soldiers for the restoration of democracy during the dark days of the Emergency."
"I have highlighted just a few aspects of our interaction. At a larger level, his contribution to our nation is indelible. He was among the bravest soldiers for the restoration of democracy during the dark days of the Emergency. He himself suffered the highhandedness of the imperious Congress culture when his governments were dismissed. And, these experiences only made his belief in democracy stronger," writes PM.