|2nd Chief Minister of Gujarat|
19 September 1963 – 20 September 1965
|Preceded by||Dr. Jivraj Mehta|
|Succeeded by||Hitendra K Desai|
February 19, 1900|
Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India
|Died||September 19, 1965
Suthari, Kachchh, Gujarat
|Political party||Indian National Congress|
Balwantrai Mehta (Chief Minister of Gujarat state, India. He participated in Indian independence movement and later hold various public offices. He is considered as the 'Architect of Panchayati Raj ' due to his contributions towards democratic decentralization.February 19, 1900 - September 19, 1965 ) was an Indian politician who served as the second
Balwantrai Gopalji Mehta was born on February 19, 1900 in Bhavnagar State in a middle-class family. He studied up to B.A classes but refused to take the degree from the foreign government. He participated in Indian independence movement. He joined the national movement of non-cooperation in 1920. He founded Bhavanagar Praja Mandal in 1921 for carrying on the freedom movement in that state. He participated in the Civil Disobedience movement from 1930 to 1932. He also participated in Bardoli Satyagraha. He was sentenced for three years imprisonment in Quit India Movement of 1942. He spent total seven years in prison during British Raj. On Mahatma Gandhi’s suggestion, he accepted membership of the Congress Working Committee. When Jawaharlal Nehru became president of All India Congress Committee, he was elected its general secretary. He was twice elected, in 1949 and was again elected in Indian general election, 1957 to the 2nd Lok Sabha from Gohilwad (Bhavnagar) Constituency.
He was the Chairman of Estimate committee of Parliament. He chaired the committee set up by Government of India in January 1957 to examine the working of the Community Development Programme and the National Extension Service and to suggest measures for their better working. The committee submitted its report in November 1957 and recommended the establishment of the scheme of 'democratic decentralisation' which finally came to be known as Panchayati Raj.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, on September 19, 1965, then serving chief minister, Mehta flew in Beechcraft commuter aircraft from Tata Chemicals, Mithapur to Kutch border between India and Pakistan. It was piloted by Jahangir Engineer, the former Indian Air Force pilot. The aircraft was shot down by Pakistan Air Force pilot Qais Hussain after receiving orders from his superiors. Mehta was killed in the crash along with his wife, three members of his staff, one journalist and two crew member.
In August 2011, Pakistani fighter pilot, Qais Hussain who shot the plane down, wrote to the daughter Beechcraft pilot apologising for his mistake, "civilian plane was mistaken for a reconnaissance aircraft by Pakistani controllers, and he was ordered to shoot it down" 
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- "Pakistan pilot's 'remorse' for 1965 shooting down". BBC. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- "After 46 yrs, the healing touch: Pak pilot says sorry for mistake". Indian Express. Aug 10, 2011. Retrieved 2014-05-27.
- "Special postage stamp on Balwantrai Mehta, Dr. Hrekrushna Mahtab and Arun Kumar Chanda". Press information bureau, Govt. of India. Archived from the original on 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2008-01-08.