Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other political leaders paid respects to veteran politician and Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, who passed away yesterday in Chandigarh.
The 95-year-old politician, a five-time Punjab Chief Minister, was hospitalised in Mohali a week ago after he complained of breathing problems.
Expressing his condolences, the Prime Minister yesterday said he was "extremely saddened" by the loss. He described Badal as a "colossal figure in Indian politics". He was a "remarkable statesman who contributed greatly to our nation, worked tirelessly for the progress of Punjab", the Prime Minister said.
The central government has announced two days of state mourning across India as a mark of respect to the veteran politician.
"On the days of mourning, the national flag will be flown half mast on all buildings where the national flag is flown regularly and there will be no official entertainment on these two days," a government communication said.
"Despite appropriate medical management S Parkash Singh Badal succumbed to his illness. Fortis Hospital Mohali deeply condoles the death of Parkash Singh Badal," a statement from the hospital yesterday said.
The veteran leader climbed his way up the political ladder, serving as a village sarpanch, before he contested assembly elections for the first time in 1957, when he was 30 years old, as a Congressman.
At 43, Badal was the youngest Chief Minister to ever hold office in the state of Punjab. In a career spanning over seven decades, he lost only two elections - one in 1967, and the latest in the 2022 Punjab assembly election.
He courted arrest during Operation Bluestar in June 1984 when the Army had entered the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar to flush out militants.
His party recently broke off ties with the BJP over the farmers' agitation against the Centre new agricultural laws in 2020. Parkash Singh Badal returned his Padma Vibhushan award - the second highest civilian honour of the country that he received from the government in 2015 - in protest against the treatment of the protesting farmers by the Central government.