M A I N   N E W S

Badal to be Chief Minister, swearing-in on March 14
This will be Badal Sr’s 5th term in office
Naveen S Garewal/TNS

Chandigarh, March 9
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supremo Parkash Singh Badal is all set to be sworn in as Punjab CM for a historic fifth term on March 14 with the SAD-BJP alliance today unanimously electing him as its legislature party leader. The swearing-in would take place at the Banda Bahadur Memorial at Chhapar Chiri and several top BJP leaders are expected to attend.

After unanimously being elected leader of the SAD Legislature Party yesterday, Badal Senior was BJP-SAD legislators’ unanimous choice to be leader of the Vidhan Sabha today.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal told The Tribune, “Badal Sahib will remain Chief Minister for as long as he wishes. He is the party’s senior-most leader whose contribution to the state and the party is unparalleled.”

Badal’s name was suggested by BJP observer Shanta Kumar and proposed by party state chief Ashwani Sharma. After it was seconded by Sukhbir and endorsed by BJP Legislature Party leader Bhagat Chunni Lal, others like Jathedar Tota Singh and Madan Mohan Mittal welcomed the decision with thunderous claps.

The Akali stalwart is the alliance’s choice to head the government for several reasons. First, this was an electoral promise made by the SAD. Secondly, with the party securing 56 seats and the support of three Independents besides 12 members of the BJP, the government is firmly in place for the next five years. So, Sukhbir is in no hurry to receive the baton from his father.

After an emotional Sukhbir hugged his father, Badal Senior took a moment to respond as his thoughts went back to his wife Surinder Kaur, who passed away last year. Quick to return to the present, Badal said, “I have no words to express my gratitude to all the MLAs who have given me this enormous responsibility.” His characteristic smile also returned.

When PS Badal took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1969, he was the country’s youngest CM. When he would be sworn-in for a record fifth time on March 14, he will be the country’s oldest CM.

Talking about the SAD-BJP alliance, Badal said the relationship was very close to his heart. Despite either party’s performance, we will stay together through thick and thin, he said. Coming from Badal, a seasoned politician, the words were perhaps meant to assure the BJP that it had nothing to fear, even though the SAD could form a government on its own.

After the meeting, the Badals, Bhagat Chuni Lal, Ashwani Sharma and Shanta Kumar drove to the Punjab Raj Bhawan and handed over a copy of resolution electing Parkash Singh Badal as leader of the SAD-BJP Legislature Party to Governor Shivraj V Patil. The Governor has invited Badal to form the government in Punjab.





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