The exercise is to be completed by March 15, 2024.
Scores of political dignitaries and party supporters on Thursday flooded Parkash Singh Badal’s native village in Muktsar district where the late Akali patriarch and five-time Punjab Chief Minister’s body was kept from morning till around 1 p.m. for people to catch a last glimpse of the late leader.
Amid ‘Shabad Kirtan’, his body will be taken in a procession to his nearby agricultural field owned by the Badal family where he will be accorded a state funeral.
Political leaders, public figures and party activists paid their last respects to the former Chief Minister before his mortal remains are consigned to flames.
A stoic Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal along with his wife Harsimrat Kaur and his three children acknowledged the tributes of hundreds of people, some tearful, who came to pay respect to the elderly Badal, whose mortal remains were brought from Chandigarh on late Wednesday evening.
Badal, the country’s oldest politician — next only to BJP veteran L.K. Advani — died on Tuesday at the age of 95 after a brief illness at a private hospital near here.
Under the helm of senior Badal, SAD made history in 1997 by becoming the first non-Congress party to complete its first full term in office since Independence.
It repeated its feat in 2007 and 2012 in alliance with the BJP.
BJP national President J.P. Nadda, Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Som Parkash, Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Ministers Bhagwant Mann and Ashok Gehlot, several former chief ministers, NCP president Sharad Pawar and National Congress leader Omar Abdullah, among others, are expected to attend the last rites.
For the cremation, kinnow trees were uprooted from more than two-acre owned by the Badals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday reached Chandigarh to pay his last respects to the patriarch.
Modi had, on Tuesday, described the demise of Badal as a “personal loss” and said he was a colossal figure of Indian politics who contributed greatly to the nation.
Congress leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a letter to SAD President Sukhbir Badal, expressed his deepest condolences and acknowledged his contributions for the welfare of farmers and weaker sections.
A day earlier, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supremo and a close friend of the Badal family, Om Parkash Chautala, also visited the party head office in Chandigarh to pay his last respects.
A flower-decked ambulance carrying the body from Chandigarh was driven by Bikram Majithia with Sukhbir Badal as co-driver.
Other family members, including Sukhbir’s estranged cousin Manpreet Badal, who is now in the BJP, were sitting beside the coffin.
Senior Badal was born on December 8, 1927 in Muktsar. He was elected as village sarpanch at the age of 20, as a MLA for the first time in 1957 and became the chief minister for the first time in 1970 at the age of 43.
He had also served as a Union Minister in the late 1970s.