Devi Lal

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Devi Lal
Chaudhary Devi Lal on a 2001 stamp of India
6th Deputy Prime Minister of India
In office
2 December 1989 – 21 June 1991
Prime MinisterV. P. Singh
Chandra Shekhar
Preceded byYashwantrao Chavan
Succeeded byL. K. Advani
5th Chief Minister of Haryana
In office
17 July 1987 – 2 December 1989
GovernorMuzaffar Husain Burney
Hara Anand Barari
Preceded byBansi Lal
Succeeded byOm Prakash Chautala
In office
21 June 1977 – 28 June 1979
GovernorJaisukh Lal Hathi
Harcharan Singh Brar
Preceded byBanarsi Das Gupta
Succeeded byBhajan Lal
Personal details
Devi Dayal Sihag

(1914-09-25)25 September 1914
Teja Khera, Punjab, British India
(now in Haryana, India)
Died6 April 2001(2001-04-06) (aged 86)
New Delhi, India
Political partyIndian National Lok Dal (1996–2001)
Other political
Indian National Congress (before 1971)
Independent (1971–1977)
Janata Party (1977–1987)
Janata Dal (1988–1990)
Samajwadi Janata Party (1990–1996)

Chaudhary Devi Lal (born Devi Dayal; 25 September 1914 — 6 April 2001) was an Indian politician. He served as 6th Deputy Prime Minister of India from 1989 to 1991 under V. P. Singh and Chandra Shekhar.[1][2] He is popularly known as Tau (uncle). Devi Lal came out as farmer leader from the state of Haryana. He served as the Chief Minister of Haryana first in 1977-79 and then in 1987-89.[2]

Personal life[change | change source]

Chaudhary Devi Lal was born in Teja Khera village of Sirsa district in present-day Haryana to Shunga Devi and Lekh Ram Sihag. Lekh Ram was a Jat of Chautala village. He owned 2750 bighas of land. Lal received education up to middle-school.[3] His son, Om Prakash Chautala also served as Haryana's chief minister four times.

In 1928 at the age of 16, Devi Lal participated in independence struggle event by Lala Lajpat Rai. He was a student of "Dev Samaj Public High School Moga" in Moga during his 10th class. He was arrested at Congress office in 1930. He quit studies and joined the freedom movement. He also took wrestling lesson at an Akhara in Badal village of Punjab. He was first elected MLA in 1952.[4]

His older brother Sahib Ram Sihag was the first politician from the family. Sahib Ram Sihag became Congress MLA from Hisar in 1938 and 1947.[5] Lal had four sons - Partap Singh, Om Prakash Chautala, Ranjit Singh and Jagdish Chander. His eldest son, Partap Singh, was an MLA from Indian National Lok Dal in the 1960s.[6]

Independence movement[change | change source]

Lal was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He was involved in the struggle for India's independence from the British Raj. Both he and his elder brother, Sahib Ram, left their studies unfinished to take part in the freedom movement.[source?]

For this, he was sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment and sent to Hissar jail on 8 October 1930. He took part in the movement of 1932. He was then kept in Sadar Delhi Thana (Jail). In 1938 he was selected delegate of All-India Congress Committee. In March 1938, his elder brother was elected a Member of the Legislative Assembly in a by-election on the Congress party ticket. In January 1940, Sahib Ram courted arrest as a satyagrahi in the presence of Lal and over ten thousand people. He was fined Rs 100 and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.[source?]

Lal was arrested again on 5 October 1942. He then kept in jail for two years for taking part in the 1942 Quit India movement. He was released from prison in October 1943. He negotiated parole for his elder brother. In August 1944, Chhotu Ram, the then Revenue Minister, visited Chautala village. He, along with Lajpat Rai Alakhpura, made efforts to woo both Sahib Ram and Lal to desert Congress and join the Unionist Party. But both workers, being dedicated freedom fighters, refused to leave the Congress Party.[source?]

Post independence[change | change source]

Pre-1960: Punjab Assembly politics[change | change source]

After independence, Lal emerged as a popular farmer leader in the 1950s and started a farmers' movement, for which he was arrested along with his 500 workers. After some time, then chief minister, Gopi Chand Bhargava, made an agreement and the Muzzara Act was amended. He was elected a member of the Punjab Assembly in 1952 and President of the Punjab Congress in 1956.[source?] In 1958, he was elected from Sirsa.

Pre-1980: Haryana Assembly politics[change | change source]

He played an active role in making Haryana a separate state. In 1971, he left Congress. In 1972 Vidhan Sabha elections, he argued over unsuccessfully against the two Congress heavyweights. One was Bansi Lal in Tosham (Vidhan Sabha seat) and another was Bhajan Lal in Adampur seat.[7] In 1974, he successfully contested in the Rori constituency. In 1975, Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency. Lal along with all opposition leaders were jailed for 19 months. In 1977, the emergency ended and general elections were held. He was elected on the Janata Party ticket from Bhattu Kalan. He then became the Chief Minister of Haryana. As the chief minister of Haryana he made several decisions benefiting farmers and rural people.[2]

Post-1980: national and state politics[change | change source]

He remained a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1982. He was a member of State assembly between 1982 and 1987. He formed Lok Dal. He started Nyaya Yuddh (en. battle for justice), under the banner of Haryana Sangharsh Samiti. In the 1987 state elections, the alliance led by Lal won a record victory winning 85 seats in the 90 member house. Congress won the other five seats. Lal became the chief minister of Haryana for the second time. In the 1989 parliamentary election, he was simultaneously elected, both from Sikar, Rajasthan and Rohtak, Haryana.

He went on to become deputy prime minister of the country from 1989 to 1991.[2]

He was elected to Rajya Sabha in August 1998. Later, his son Om Prakash Chautala also became the chief minister of Haryana.[8]

Death and legacy[change | change source]

His popularity among farmers and rural people earned him the title of 'Tau' (Elder Uncle). Lal died on 6 April 2001 at the age of 85. He was cremated at Sangarsh Sthal on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi. "Kisan Ghat" is the samadhi of another popular leader of the farmers, Charan Singh, the fifth Prime Minister of India.

References[change | change source]

  1. Lewis, Paul (16 April 2001). "Devi Lal, 86, Expert in Weaving His Way Through Indian Politics". NY Times. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Devi Lal: Original Tau of Indian politics, popular farmer leader". Times of India. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  3. History of Sirsa Town. Atlantic Publishers & Distri. 1991. p. 241.
  4. "Om Prakash Chautala's ancestors came from Rajasthan". The Times of India. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  5. "Bahu Naina broke glass ceiling of Chautala family politics". The Indian Express. 24 January 2019. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  6. "In Chautala, villagers say family feud no surprise". The Indian Express. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  8. Sukumar Muralidharan (April 2001). "The Jat patriarch". Frontline. 18 (9).

Other websites[change | change source]

Political offices
Preceded by
Banarsi Das Gupta
Chief Minister of Haryana
Succeeded by
Bhajan Lal
Preceded by
Bansi Lal
Chief Minister of Haryana
Succeeded by
Om Prakash Chautala
Preceded by
Yashwantrao Chavan
Deputy Prime Minister of India
Succeeded by
Lal Krishna Advani