U. N. Dhebar (fourth from right), then Chief Minister with Council of rulers and ministers of Saurashtra Union
Uchharangrai Navalshankar Dhebar (1905–1977) was active in India's struggle for Independence, and later served as Chief Minister of Saurashtra, and President of the Indian National Congress. As a freedom fighter and right hand to Gandhiji, Dhebar is one of the keys to helping India gain Independence from the British in 1947. He was born on September 21, 1905 in the hamlet of Gangajala, eleven miles from Jamnagar in Gujarat. After his university education, he started a legal practice and from the very beginning gained a name as a reputable lawyer. Under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi he left his promising legal career in 1936 and devoted himself to national service and freedom fighting for the country he loved.
In 1941 Dhebar was selected by Gandhi to offer Individual Satyagraha at Viramgam. He was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment. In 1942 he was again arrested during the Quit India Movement. On the attainment of independence, Dhebar played a prominent role in the merger of the States of Kathiawad in the Indian Union and then in the formation of the Kathiawad Union known as 'United State of Kathiawar'. He was appointed as Chief Minister of Saurashtra State in 1948. During his administration several reform were introduced in Saurashtra for the uplift of Villages.
In 1955 he was elected President of the Indian National Congress. He continued in that position for five years, till 1959. His first act as the President was to assemble the top leaders of the Congress for a week in a conference to decide how the Congress could best serve the nation. Historically, he is remembered even today in the political circle. In 1962 he was elected to the Lok Sabha. Dhebar was connected with several institutions rendering social and educational services to the country. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1973. Rajkot Airport was named on his memory.