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Badal turns 88; offers prayers in Delhi gurdwara 

New Delhi/Chandigarh, Dec 8 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh turned 88-years old on Tuesday and offered prayers at a gurdwara in New Delhi.

Badal offered prayers at New Delhi’s Bangla Sahib Gurdwara with family members and close aides.

The chief minister was accompanied by his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the Punjab deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president, and daughter-in-law Harsimrat Badal, who is the union food processing minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had recently said that Badal was the “Nelson Mandela of India”, extended his birthday greetings to Badal through twitter.

“Birthday greetings to the veteran politician & Punjab CM Shri Parkash Singh Badal,” Modi tweeted on Tuesday.

Badal, a long-time ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), enjoys warm personal relations with Prime Minister Modi.

Wishing his father, Sukhbir Badal told media in Delhi: “His sincerity for farmers and common people has been his strongest point in political life.”

Starting from a simple agricultural background, Badal forayed into politics by getting elected as ‘sarpanch’ (village headman) in 1947, the same year when the country got independence.

He was first elected to the Punjab assembly in 1957 on a Congress ticket. He left the Congress party soon after and joined the Akali Dal, the second oldest party in the country after the Congress, and ended up opposing the Congress policies and governments.

Well-known for his witty one-liners and memory of people and events, Badal has always remained centre stage in Punjab’s politics in the past over six decades.

Born December 8, 1927, in an agriculturist family in Abul Khurana village near Malout in southwest Punjab, Badal has been chief minister of Punjab five times – 1970-71, 1977-80, 1997-2002, 2007-12 and 2012 onwards.

He has been in power in Punjab continuously since March 2007. He briefly remained a union minister in 1977 in the Morarji Desai government.

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