Shiromani Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal was a “colossal figure of Indian politics”, political leaders said as 95-year-old former Punjab chief minister died at Mohali’s Fortis Hospital around 8 pm on Tuesday.

Badal had been admitted there a week earlier after he complained about uneasiness in breathing.

The Union government has declared two days of national mourning on April 26 and April 27 as a mark of respect for Badal.

“On the days of mourning, the National Flag will be flown at half mast on all buildings where the National Flag is flown regularly and there will be no official entertainment on these two days,” an official press release said.

Politicians cutting across party lines paid tributes to the veteran leader and expressed condolences to his family

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Badal’s death was a personal loss to him.

“I have interacted closely with him for many decades and learnt so much from him,” he said. “I recall our numerous conversations, in which his wisdom was always clearly seen.”

President Droupadi Murmu described Badal as one of the “tallest political stalwarts” since Independence. “Though his exemplary career in public service was largely confined to Punjab, he was respected across the country,” she said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Shiromani Akali Dal leader’s career was dedicated to the welfare of the poor.

“I was fortunate to meet Parkash Singh Badal Sahab on several occasions,” he said on Twitter. “His unparalleled political experience was very helpful in public life and always a delight to listen to. The memories of those meetings will always remain with me.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi remembered Badal as a “tall leader of national politics as well as that of Punjab”.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge described Badal as a veteran of Indian politics.

“Although we differed in our ideologies, he earned immense respect among the people of Punjab for his simplicity and loyalty to his cadre, as he served multiple terms as CM,” he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said he prays that Badal’s family finds the strength to bear his loss.

Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal expressed condolences to his son Parkash Singh Badal’s son Sukhbir Singh Badal and the rest of the veteran leader’s family. Sukhbir Singh Badal is the current president of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the MP from Punjab’s Firozpur.

Born on December 8, 1927, in Punjab’s Malout, Badal graduated from Forman Christian College in Lahore. He acquired his first political post in 1947 as the sarpanch of Badal village and the chairperson of the block samiti.

He went on to become the youngest MLA of the country at 25. In 1969, he won the Gidderbaha Assembly seat as a Shiromani Akali Dal candidate. At 43, Badal had become the youngest chief minister in the country. He went on to assume the post four more times in 1977-’80, 1997-2002, 2007-’12 and 2012-’17.

In 2022, he became the oldest politician in the country to contest Assembly elections at 94.