Charan Singh

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The Honourable
Chaudhary Charan Singh
Charan Singh
Charan Singh in 1978
5th Prime Minister of India
In office
28 July 1979 – 14 January 1980
PresidentNeelam Sanjiva Reddy
DeputyYashwantrao Chavan
Preceded byMorarji Desai
Succeeded byIndira Gandhi
Minister of Finance
In office
24 January 1979 – 28 July 1979
Prime MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byHaribhai Patel
Succeeded byHemvati Nandan Bahuguna
3rd Deputy Prime Minister of India
In office
24 March 1977 – 28 July 1979
Serving with Jagjivan Ram
Prime MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byMorarji Desai
Succeeded byYashwantrao Chavan
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
24 March 1977 – 1 July 1978
Prime MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byKasu Brahmananda Reddy
Succeeded byMorarji Desai
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
In office
3 April 1967 – 25 February 1968
GovernorBiswanath Das
Bezawada Gopala Reddy
Preceded byChandra Bhanu Gupta
Succeeded byPresident's rule
In office
18 February 1970 – 1 October 1970
GovernorBezawada Gopala Reddy
Preceded byChandra Bhanu Gupta
Succeeded byPresident's rule
Personal details
BornChaudhary Charan Singh
(1902-12-23)23 December 1902
Noorpur, United Provinces, British India
(now in Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died29 May 1987(1987-05-29) (aged 84)
New Delhi, India
Political partyJanata Party (Secular) (1979–1987)
Other political
Indian National Congress (Before 1967)
Bharatiya Lok Dal (1967–1977)
Janata Party (1977–1980)
Lokdal (1980-1987)
Spouse(s)Gayatri Devi (died in 2002)
Children6; including Ajit Singh
Alma materAgra University

Chaudhary Charan Singh (23 December 1902 – 29 May 1987) served as the 5th Prime Minister of India, serving from 28 July 1979 until 14 January 1980. Historians and people alike frequently refer to him as the 'champion of India's peasants.'[1]

Charan Singh was born on December 23, 1902 in a rural peasant Jat family of village Noorpur, District Hapur (Erstwhile District Meerut), Uttar Pradesh (Erstwhile United Provinces of Agra and Oudh).[2] Charan Singh entered politics as part of the Independence Movement motivated by Mohandas Gandhi. He was active from 1931 in the Ghaziabad District Arya Samaj as well as the Meerut District Indian National Congress for which he was jailed twice by the British. Before independence, as a member of Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces elected in 1937, he took a deep interest in the laws that were detrimental to the village economy and he slowly built his ideological and practical stand against the exploitation of tillers of the land by landlords.

Between 1952 and 1967, he was one of "three principal leaders in Congress state politics."[3] He became particularly notable in Uttar Pradesh from the 1950s for drafting and ensuring the passage of what were then the most revolutionary land reform laws in any state in India under the tutelage of the then Chief Minister Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant; first as Parliamentary Secretary and then as Revenue Minister responsible for Land Reforms. He became visible on the national stage from 1959 when he publicly opposed the unquestioned leader and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's socialistic and collectivist land policies in the Nagpur Congress Session. Though his position in the faction-ridden UP Congress was weakened, this was a point when the middle peasant communities across castes in North India began looking up to him as their spokesperson and later as their unquestioned leader. Singh stood for tight government spending, enforced consequences for corrupt officers, and advocated a "firm hand in dealing with the demands of government employees for increased wages and dearness allowances."[4] It is also worth noting that within the factional UP Congress, his ability to articulate his clear policies and values made him stand out from his colleagues.[5] Following this period, Charan Singh defected from the Congress on April 1, 1967, joined the opposition party, and became the first non-Congress chief minister of UP.[6] This was a period when non-Congress governments were a strong force in India from 1967-1971.

As leader of the Bharatiya Lok Dal, a major constituent of the Janata coalition, he was disappointed in his ambition to become Prime Minister in 1977 by Jayaprakash Narayan's choice of Morarji Desai, not to seek power for himself but to enable him to implement his revolutionary economic programs in the interest of the rural economy.

During 1977 Lok Sabha Elections, the fragmented opposition united a few months before the elections under the Janata Party banner, for which Chaudhary Charan Singh had been struggling almost single-handedly since 1974. It was because of the efforts of Raj Narain that he became Prime Minister in the year 1979 though Raj Narain was Chairman of Janata Party-Secular and assured Charan Singh of elevating him as Prime Minister, the way he helped him to become Chief Minister in the year 1967 in Uttar Pradesh. However, he resigned after just 24 weeks in office when Indira Gandhi's Congress Party withdrew support to the government. Charan Singh said he resigned because he was not ready to be blackmailed into withdrawing Indira Gandhi's emergency-related court cases.[7] Fresh elections were held six months later. Charan Singh continued to lead the Lok Dal in opposition till his death in 1987.

Early years – pre-Independence India[edit]

Charan Singh's ancestor was a prominent leader of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Raja Nahar Singh of Ballabhgarh, Greater Panjab (in present-day Haryana). Nahar Singh was sent to the gallows in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. In order to escape the oppression from the British Government following their defeat, the Maharaja's followers, including Charan Singh's grandfather moved eastward to district Bulandshaher in Uttar Pradesh.

Charan Singh was born on 23 December 1902 in the village village Noorpur, District Hapur (Erstwhile District Meerut), Uttar Pradesh (Erstwhile United Provinces of Agra and Oudh). He was a good student, and received a Master of Arts (MA) degree in 1925 and a law degree in 1926 from Agra University. He started practice as a civil lawyer at Ghaziabad in 1928.

In February 1937 he was elected from the constituency of Chhaprauli (Baghpat) to the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces at the age of 34. In 1938 he introduced an Agricultural Produce Market Bill in the Assembly which was published in the issues of The Hindustan Times of Delhi dated 31 March 1938. The Bill was intended to safeguard the interests of the farmers against the rapacity of traders. The Bill was adopted by most of the States in India, Punjab being the first state to do so in 1940.

Charan Singh followed Mahatma Gandhi in non-violent struggle for independence from the British Government, and was imprisoned several times. In 1930, he was sent to jail for 6 months by the British for contravention of the salt laws. He was jailed again for one year in November 1940 for individual Satyagraha movement. In August 1942 he was jailed again by the British under DIR and released in November 1943.

Independent India[edit]

Charan Singh opposed Jawaharlal Nehru on his Soviet-style economic reforms, and he helped transform the agricultural economy of North India after 1947.[8] Charan Singh was of the opinion that cooperative farms would not succeed in India. Being a son of a farmer, Charan Singh opined that the right of ownership was important to the farmer in remaining a cultivator. He wanted to preserve and stabilize a system of peasant proprietorship.[9] Charan Singh's political career suffered due to his open criticism of Nehru's economic policy.

Charan Singh left the Congress party in 1967, and formed his own political party, Bharatiya Kranti Dal. With the help and support of Raj Narain and Ram Manohar Lohia, he became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1967, and later in 1970. In 1975, he was jailed again, but this time by then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, daughter of his former rival Nehru. She had declared the state of emergency and jailed all her political opponents. In the 1977 general elections, the Indian populace voted her out, and the opposition party, of which Chaudhary Charan Singh was a senior leader came into power. He served as Deputy Prime Minister,Home Minister and Finance minister in the Janata government headed by Morarji Desai.

Personal life[edit]

Singh in a typical farmer attire.

Singh had six children with wife Gayatri Devi. His son Ajit Singh is currently the president of a political party Rashtriya Lok Dal and a former Union Minister and a many times Member of Parliament. Ajit Singh's son Jayant Chaudhary was elected to 15th Lok Sabha from Mathura, which he lost to Hema Malini in the election of 2014.

Singh suffered a stroke on 29 November 1985. He could not completely recover from the condition despite being treated the following March at a hospital in the US. At 11:35 p.m. (IST) on 28 May 1987 doctors were called for to his residence in New Delhi, after his respiration was found "unsteady". Efforts to revive him failed and was declared dead at 2:35 a.m. (IST) the following morning after a "cardiovascular collapse".[10]


Since his death, many who knew Singh have ensured his life and work are remembered positively.[11] These perceptions enforce the notion that he was of a "higher category of leaders" in the areas of "intellect, personal integrity, and . . . coherence of his economic and social thought."[12] His association with causes dear to farming communities in India caused his memorial in New Delhi to be named Kisan Ghat (in Hindi, Kisan is the word for farmer). His birthday on 23 December is celebrated as Kisan Diwas in India. A commemorative postage stamp was issued by the government of India on the third death anniversary (May 29, 1990) of Charan Singh.

The Amausi Airport in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh was renamed Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport after him, and the University of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, India, was also named Chaudhary Charan Singh University in his honour. A college in Etawah district, Chaudhary Charan Singh Post Graduate College is also named after him. A hospital in Bulandshahr district is named after him.


  • Joint Farming X-rayed (1959)
  • India's Economic Policy - The Gandhian Blueprint (1978)
  • Economic Nightmare of India: Its Cause and Cure (1981)
  • Abolition of Zamindari
  • Co-operative Farming X-rayed
  • Peasant Proprietorship or Land to the Workers
  • Prevention of Division of Holdings Below a Certain Minimum


  1. ^ Byres, Terence J. (1988-01-01). "Charan Singh, 1902–87: An assessment". The Journal of Peasant Studies. 15 (2): 139–189. doi:10.1080/03066158808438356. ISSN 0306-6150.
  2. ^ The Churchill Centre (2002). "India: Making headway with the critics". The Churchill Centre. Archived from the original on 23 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-11.
  3. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  4. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  5. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  6. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  7. ^ "Charan singh resigns". The Glasgow Herald. 21 August 1979. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  8. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  9. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  10. ^ "Charan Singh Dead". The Indian Express. 30 May 1987. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  11. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  12. ^ Brass, Paul R. (1993-01-01). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Chandra Bhanu Gupta
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Succeeded by
Chandra Bhanu Gupta
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Succeeded by
Tribhuvan Narain Singh
Preceded by
Morarji Desai
Deputy Prime Minister of India
Served alongside: Jagjivan Ram
Succeeded by
Yashwantrao Chavan
Preceded by
Kasu Brahmananda Reddy
Minister of Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Morarji Desai
Preceded by
Haribhai Patel
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna
Preceded by
Morarji Desai
Prime Minister of India
Succeeded by
Indira Gandhi
Chairperson of the Planning Commission