Bansi Lal

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Bansi Lal Legha
Minister of Defence
In office
21 December 1975 – 24 March 1977
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Preceded by Indira Gandhi
Succeeded by Jagjivan Ram
Minister of Railways
In office
31 December 1984 – 4 June 1986
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
Preceded by A. B. A. Ghani Khan Choudhury
Succeeded by Mohsina Kidwai
3rd, 7th and 15th Chief Minister of Haryana
In office
22 May 1968 – 30 November 1975
Preceded by President's Rule
Succeeded by Banarsi Das Gupta
In office
5 July 1985 – 19 June 1987
Preceded by Bhajan Lal
Succeeded by Chaudhary Devi Lal
In office
11 May 1996 – 23 July 1999
Preceded by Bhajan Lal
Succeeded by Om Prakash Chautala
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Bhiwani
In office
1980–1987
Preceded by Chandrawati
Succeeded by Chaudhary Ram Narain Singh
In office
1989–1991
Preceded by Chaudhary Ram Narain Singh
Succeeded by Jangbir Singh
Personal details
Born 26 August 1927
Died 28 March 2006 (2006-03-29) (aged 78)

Bansi Lal (Full name: Bansi Lal Legha) (26 August 1927 – 28 March 2006) was an Indian Hindu Jat independence activist, senior Congress leader, former Chief Minister of Haryana and considered by many to be the architect of modern Haryana.[citation needed]


Lal was elected to the State Assembly seven times, the first time in 1967.

He served three separate terms as Chief Minister of Haryana: 1968–75, 1985–87, and 1996–99. Bansi Lal was considered a close confidante of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency era of 1975 -1977.

He served as the Defence Minister from December 1975 to March 1977, and had a brief stint as a Minister Without Portfolio in the Union government in 1975. He also held the Railways and Transport portfolios.

He set up Haryana Vikas Party after parting ways with the Indian National Congress in 1996.

Early Life[edit]

He was born in Golagarh village in Bhiwani district of Haryana in a Legha Hindu Jat family.

Education[edit]

Bansi Lal studied at the Punjab University Law College, Jalandhar. In 1972, the Kurukshetra University and the Haryana Agricultural University awarded him honorary degrees of Doctor of Law and Doctor of Science respectively.

Political career[edit]

  • Lal was secretary of Parja mandal in the Loharu State, from 1943 to 1944.
  • Lal was president of the Bar Association, Bhiwani from 1957 to 1958. He was president of the District Congress Committee, Hissar, from 1959 to 1962 and later became a member of the Congress Working Committee and Congress Parliamentary Board.
  • He was a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee between 1958 and 1962.
  • He was the Defence minister of India from December 1975 to March 1977.
  • He was also the chairman of the Committee of Parliament and Committee on Public Undertakings, 1980–82, and the Committee on Estimates, 1982–84.
  • He became railways minister on 31 December 1984 and later minister for transport.
  • He was a Rajya Sabha member from 1960 to 1966 and 1976 to 1980. He was a Lok Sabha member—1980 to 1984, 1985 to 1986 and 1989 to 1991.
  • After he parted company with Congress in 1996, Bansi Lal set up the Haryana Vikas Party and his campaign against prohibition propelled him to power in the assembly polls the same year.

Chief Minister of Haryana[edit]

Bansi Lal became the Chief Minister of Haryana four times in 1968, 1972, 1986 and 1996. He was the third chief minister of Haryana after Bhagwat Dayal Sharma and Rao Birender Singh. He became Haryana chief minister for the first time on 31 May 1968 and remained in office till 13 March 1972. On 14 March 1972, he occupied the top post in the state for the second time and was in office till 29 November 1975. The third and fourth times he was appointed chief minister was from 5 June 1986 to 19 June 1987 and 11 May 1996 to 23 July 1999.

Bansi Lal was elected to the state assembly seven times, the first time being in 1967. After Haryana was formed in 1966, much of the state's industrial and agricultural development, especially creation of infrastructure, took place due to Lal's initiatives. He was elected to the state assembly for seven times in 1967, 1968, 1972, 1986, 1991 and 2000. He was responsible for electrifying all villages in Haryana during his tenure as chief minister in the late sixties and seventies. He was also the pioneer of highway tourism in the state – a model later adopted by a number of states. He is regarded by many as an "Iron man" who was always close to reality and took keen interest in the upliftment of the community.

Bansi Lal did not contest the assembly elections in 2005 but his sons Chaudhary Surender Singh and Ranbir Singh Mahendra were elected to the state assembly. Surrender Singh died in a helicopter crash near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh on 31 March 2005.

Role during Emergency[edit]

Lal was in the limelight when Emergency was imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. He was a confidante of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi during the controversial Emergency days in 1975. He along with Sanjay Gandhi was said to be responsible for various steps during the Emergency.

He was the defence minister from 21 December 1975 to 24 March 1977 and a minister without portfolio in the Union government from 1 December 1975 to 20 December 1975.

A widely travelled person[edit]

Lal visited a number of countries, including Myanmar, Afghanistan, erstwhile Soviet Union, Mauritius, Tanzania, Zambia, Seychelles, the United Kingdom, Kuwait, Greece, West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy. Lal became one of the first Chief Ministers to visit Israel, when he led a delegation of agriculturalists and sarpanches to the country in 1971.

Death[edit]

Lal died in New Delhi on 28 March 2006. He had been unwell for quite some time.

Canal[edit]

In 2008, the Jui canal was named the Bansi Lal Canal in his memory.[1]

Political Legacy[edit]

Lal's elder son, Ranbir Singh Mahendra,is a Member of the Legislative Assembly (2005) from Mundhal constituency. Lal's younger son's wife, Mrs. Kiran Chaudhary,is a Member of the Legislative Assembly (2005,2009) from Tosham constituency. Lal's grand daughter, Ms. Shruti Chaudhary, is Member of the Parliament (2009) from Bhiwani constituency.

References[edit]

  • Bansi Lal: Chief Minister of Haryana By S. R. Bakshi, Sita Ram Sharma 1998 ISBN 9788170249856