Surjit Singh Barnala

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Surjit Singh Barnala
H E Shri Surjit Singh Barnala.jpg
Governor of Tamil Nadu
In office
3 November 2004 – 31 August 2011
Preceded by P. S. Ramamohan Rao
Succeeded by Konijeti Rosaiah
Personal details
Born (1925-10-21) October 21, 1925 (age 89)
Ateli, Punjab Province, British India, now in Haryana, India
Political party Shiromani Akali Dal
Spouse(s) Surjit Kaur Barnala
Religion Sikhism

Surjit Singh Barnala (born 21 October 1925) is an Indian politician. He is a former Chief Minister of Punjab, former Governor of Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and a former Union Minister.

Early life[edit]

Barnala was born in Ateli, Haryana. Born of a well-to-do family (his father was a magistrate), Barnala passed Law from Lucknow University in 1946. In Lucknow, he was involved in the Quit India Movement of 1942. Subsequently he practised law for some years, and became politically active in the late '60s, rising through the ranks of Akali Dal. Though, he first stood for election in 1952 but lost by a meagre 4 votes.

Politics[edit]

His first ministerial assignment was in 1969 when he was sworn in as Education Minister in the Justice Gurnam Singh Government and was instrumental in setting up the Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar. In 1977 he was elected to the Indian Parliament and was inducted in the Morarji Desai Cabinat as the Agriculture Minister at the time when the Ministry included Irrigation Water Resources,Food,Environment and Forests,Consumer Affairs,Power and Chemical And Fertilizers and Rural Development.In 1978 Barnala signed the historic Ganga Waters Agreement (Farakka Agreement)with Bangladesh.In 1979 during the turmoil in the national govt when PM Morarji Desai resigned the then President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy toyed with the idea of appointing an interim Govt with Barnala as Prime Minister but had to drop the idea at the last moment fearing horse trading by a top member of the Cabinet,and Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh assumed Prime Minister ship

Barnala served as Chief Minister of Punjab from September 29, 1985 until May 11, 1987. Barnala, a member of the Sikh political party Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) served as Chief Minister during a period of Sikh militant movement in Punjab. The state had under in Barnala's chief ministership from 1985 to 1987, and after nearly two years in office, President's Rule was imposed.

Since then, Barnala has served as a Governor of several states. He first served as Governor of Tamil Nadu from 1990 to 1991 for about nine months. Barnala refused to recommend the dismissal of the Tamil Nadu government, and when he was later transferred as Governor of Bihar he choose to resign. He served as the lieutenant governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands from December 1990 to 18 March 1993.

In 1996 Barnala once again came close to becoming Prime Minister. In 1996 General Elections with no political party getting mandate it was a good time for a regional party to have its Prime Minister.Regional Parties accounted about 80 MP's in the Lok Sabha The Assam Gana Parishad of Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and TDP of Chandra Babu Naidu including The Left parties zeroed on Barnala but last minute Barnala's parent party SAD led by Barnala's supposedly close friend Parkash Singh Badal without informing Barnala joined hands with the BJP hence Barnala yet again missed being Prime Minister.

In 1997 Barnala was a candidate of the BJP and its Allies in the election of the Vice-President of India.

In 1998 Barnala was again elected to Parliament and became the minister for Chemical & Fertlizers and Food & Consumer Affairs in the Vajpayee Cabinet.

He was the First Governor of Uttarakhand from its creation in 2000 until 2003, and Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 2003 to 2004 during this time he also held additional charge of Orissa as Governor for some time, and was Governor of Tamil Nadu till 31 August 2011 during his Tamil Nadu years he also held additional charge of Puduchery for a few months.He is the second longest serving Governor in Indian History after Dr.A R Kidwai and the only Governor to have served three terms in the history of Madras(Tamil Nadu) State of 300 Years.

At present he is the Patron of a four party alliance ''Sanja Morcha'' in Punjab . Like few other anti Congress leaders of his time he has spent about Three and a Half years in jail as a political prisoner including 11 months in solitary confinement.

Author[edit]

He has authored a book "Story of an Escape" which has been translated from English to Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu. His second book that was released in December 2007, is titled "My Other Two Daughters". Painting is his hobby and four exhibitions of his works have been held. The proceeds from his recent exhibitions went to charity.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Surjit Singh Barnala is married to Surjit Kaur Barnala, who is also an active politician. In August 2009, Surjit Kaur become the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal).[2] The couple have 2 sons. The eldest son, Jasjit Singh Barnala, is a businessman. The second son, Gaganjit Singh Barnala, is also into politics. He had another son, Neelinder Singh Barnala, who died in a car accident in 1996. He had a daughter Amrit Kaur, who died due to cancer in Oct 2012. Amrit Kaur was married to Major Adesh Pal Singh Sandhu, a retired Indian Army officer. Surjit Singh Barnala has eight grandchildren.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Ranjit Singh Dayal
Lieutenant Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
1990–1993
Succeeded by
Vakkom Purushothaman
Preceded by
C. Rangarajan
Governor of Andhra Pradesh
2003-2004
Succeeded by
Sushil Kumar Shinde