Balwantrai Mehta

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Balwantrai Mehta
Balwantrai Mehta 2000 stamp of India.jpg
2nd Chief Minister of Gujarat
In office
25 February 1963 – 19 September 1965
Preceded byDr. Jivraj Mehta
Succeeded byHitendra K Desai
Personal details
Born(1900-02-19)19 February 1900
Bhavnagar, Saurashtra, British India
Died19 September 1965(1965-09-19) (aged 65)
Kachchh, Gujarat, India
Political partyIndian National Congress

Balwantrai Mehta ((1900-02-19)19 February 1900 – (1965-09-19)19 September 1965) was an Indian politician who served as the second 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 decentralisation.


Balwantrai Gopalji Mehta was born on 19 February 1900 in Bhavnagar State in a middle-class family[citation needed]. 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-co-operation 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[citation needed] and was again elected in Indian general election, 1957 to the 2nd Lok Sabha from Gohilwad (Bhavnagar) Constituency.[1]

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.[2][3]

He also remained President of Servants of the People Society (Lok Sevak Mandal), a social service organisation founded by Lala Lajpat Rai, in 1921.[4]

He succeeded Jivraj Narayan Mehta as the Chief Minister of Gujarat on 25 February 1963. He founded Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, an educational institution.


During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, on 19 September 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, assuming it to be a reconnaissance mission. Mehta was killed in the crash along with his wife, three members of his staff, one journalist and two crew member.[5][6]

In August 2011, Pakistani fighter pilot, Qais Hussain who shot the plane down, wrote to the daughter of the 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" [6][7]


The Department of Post, Government of India has issued a special postage stamp of face value INR 3.00 to commemorate his 100th birth anniversary on 19 February 2000.[8]


  1. ^ "Statistical Report on General Elections, 1957 to the Second Lok Sabha, (Vol. I)" (PDF). Election Commission of India. p. 65. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ Mathew, George (1995). Status of Panchayati Raj in the States of India, 1994. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-81-7022-553-9.
  3. ^ Misra, Suresh; Dhaka, Rajvir S. (1 January 2004). Grassroots Democracy in Action: A Study of Working of PRIs in Haryana. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-81-8069-107-2.
  4. ^ Grover, Verinder (1993). Political Thinkers of Modern India: Lala Lajpat Rai. Deep & Deep Publications. pp. 547–. ISBN 978-81-7100-426-3.
  5. ^ Laskar, Rezaul (10 August 2011). "Pak Pilot's Remorse for 1965 Shooting of Indian Plane". Outlook. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Pakistan pilot's 'remorse' for 1965 shooting down". BBC. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  7. ^ "After 46 yrs, the healing touch: Pak pilot says sorry for mistake". Indian Express. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Special postage stamp on Balwantrai Mehta, Dr. Hrekrushna Mahtab and Arun Kumar Chanda". Press information bureau, Govt. of India. Archived from the original on 8 January 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2008.