Amritsar : He was known as the “super chief minister” in Punjab’s power circles so far. But when Sukhbir Singh Badal Wednesday took oath of office as deputy chief minister to his father and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, he got the official tag to his status.
Badal junior, 46, a sculptor by hobby during his college days, would now be chiselling the future of the Akali Dal-run state. He is the president of the Akali Dal, a mantle he assumed from his 83-year-old father over a year ago.
Sukhbir Badal was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues at the Ranjit Avenue grounds here.
Known as Kakaji, a term used in political circles to refer to the sons (mostly spoilt) of Punjab’s political elite, Sukhbir’s elevation is being seen as signs of his political maturity.
Speculations were rife for a few months that Parkash Singh Badal would step down in his son’s favour.
It is not that Badal junior has any dearth of experience. A three-time Lok Sabha MP from Punjab (presently he represents Faridkot), he was minister of state for industries in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998-99. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2001.
He will have to get elected to the Punjab assembly within six months to retain the new job.
Badal junior has been talking a lot about bringing corporate culture in the traditional Akali Dal – a party identified with grey flowing beards of its senior leaders – and of taking Punjab to the top league among states.
Married to Harsimrat Kumar, Sukhbir has three children who study in New Delhi.
Badal junior did his honours and master’s degree in Economics from Panjab University in Chandigarh before completing his business management degree from California State University in Los Angeles.
Besides being a high-profile politician and hailing from the most prominent political family of Punjab, Sukhbir has business and agricultural interests. He owns Orbit Resorts in Gurgaon, a 5-star property currently being run by a leading international hotel chain.