Chaudhary Devi Lal Ji

Chaudhary Devi Lal was born to Shugna Devi and Chaudhary Lekh Ram on September 25, 1914 in Teja Khera village of Sirsa district. Chaudhary Lekh Ram was a wealthy Jat landlord of Chautala village.

Chaudhary Devi Lal, whose original name was Devi Dayal, received education up to middle school and trained as a wrestler at an akhara in Badal village, Punjab. On Mahatma Gandhi’s call, both he and his elder brother Chaudhary Sahib Ram left their studies unfinished to take part in the freedom movement.

He was even sentenced to a year of rigorous imprisonment and sent to Hisar jail on October 8, 1930. He also took part in the movement of 1932 and was jailed in Sadar Delhi Thana. In 1938, he was selected as a delegate of the All India Congress Committee. In March 1938, his elder brother Chaudhary Sahib Ram was elected as an MLA in a by-election on an INC ticket. In January 1940, Chaudhary Sahib Ram was arrested as a satyagrahi in the presence of Chaudhary Devi Lal and over ten thousand other people. He was fined rupees 100 and sentenced to imprisonment for nine months.

Chaudhary Devi Lal was arrested on October 5, 1942 and kept in jail for 2 years for taking part in the 1942 Quit India movement. Therefore, in 1942, both of Chaudhary Lekh Ram’s sons were in the Multan Jail for taking part in the freedom struggle. Chaudhary Devi Lal was released in October 1943 and he got his elder brother released on parole as well. In August 1944, Sir Chhotu Ram, the then Revenue Minister, visited Chautala village. He, along with Lajpat Rai Alakhpura, made efforts to woo both Chaudhary Sahib Ram and Chaudhary Devi Lal to desert Congress and join the Unionist Party. But both workers, dedicated freedom fighters in their own right, refused to leave the party. After independence, Chaudhary Devi Lal started a farmer’s movement and was arrested along with his five hundred workers. After some time, the then Chief Minister Dr. Gopi Chand Bhargawa made an agreement and Muzzara Act was amended. He was elected as a member of Punjab Assembly in 1952 and chosen to be the Congress President of Punjab in 1956.

He played an active and decisive role in the formation of Haryana as a separate state. In 1958, he was elected from Sirsa. In 1971, he left INC after being a member for thirty nine years. He was elected in 1974 from Rori constituency against Congress. In 1975, when Indira Gandhi declared an emergency, Chaudhary Devi Lal was sent to Hisar Jail for 19 months in Hisar Jail along with most other leaders of opposition. In 1977, when the emergency was lifted, general elections followed. He was elected on a Janata Party ticket and became the Chief Minister of Haryana. For his steadfast opposition of the emergency and the dictatorial misrule of Indira Gandhi, he became known as Sher-e-Haryana.

He remained a member of parliament from 1980 to 1982 and a member of his state assembly from 1982 to 1987. He also formed Lok Dal and started a Nyaya Yudh under Haryana Sangharsh Samiti and became hugely popular amongst the masses. In the 1987 state elections, the alliance led by Chaudhary Devi Lal staged a record victory winning eighty five seats in the ninety member house. Congress was routed in the state as it won only five seats and Chaudhary Devi Lal became the Chief Minister of Haryana for the second time. In the 1989 parliamentary elections, he was simultaneously elected both from Sikar in Rajasthan and Rohtak in Haryana. He became the Deputy Prime Minister of India for two different governments and was elected to Rajya Sabha in August 1998.

Chaudhary Devi Lal was a true Gandhian and freedom fighter. He fought against the British rule and played an important role in the freedom movement. After independence, Chaudhary Devi Lal emerged as a leader of farmers. During his two tenures as chief minister of Haryana, he made several decisions benefiting farmers and rural people. He always took decisions that helped in the betterment of the lives of common people. His popularity among farmers and rural people earned him the title of Tau (elder uncle).

Chaudhary Devi Lal passed away on April 6, 2001 at the age of eighty six. And on April 7, 2001, he was cremated at Kisan Ghat on the banks of river Yamuna. His passing away has left a void in Indian politics that can never be filled.

1914 Born on September 25 at Teja Khera to Chaudhary Lekh Ram and Shrimati Shugna Devi.
1919 Migrated from Teja Khera to Chautala.
1924 Passed fourth grade from Government Primary School, Chautala.
1926 Passed sixth grade from District Board Middle School, Mandi Dabwali.
1928 Passed eighth grade from District Board Middle School, Mandi Dabwali.
Joined a protest demonstration led by Lala lajpat Rai on October 30 at Lahore.
1929 Passed ninth grade from Harbhagwan Memorial High School, Ferozepur.
Attended a Congress session held at Lahore on the banks of river Ravi on December 31.
1930 Arrested from the office of INC at Chautala and jailed at Hisar Jail on August 28.
Sentenced on October 8 by a First Class Magistrate u/s 108 Cr. P.C. and fined rupees 5000. Did not pay the fine and was sent to District Jail, Hisar.
1931 Transferred to Borstal Institute, Lahore.
1932 Arrested again on the charge of holding public meetings and kept behind bars in Hisar. Released after fifteen days.
1933 Arrested on January 4 when Mahatma Gandhi resumed the Civil Disobedience Movement.
1934 Released in May, 1934 when the movement was withdrawn.
1938 Addressed a Joint Session of the Congress Working Committee held at Hisar on April 3.
1942 Offered arrest at Chautala after addressing the villagers on October 5. Later transferred to Central Jail, Multan on October 30.
1944 Met Sir Chhotu Ram at Chautala.
1945 Exhorted the tenants of Chautala village on October 4 to cultivate the land from which they had been ejected.
1946 Launched Tenancy Satyagraha August 2 at Chautala.
1947 Addressed a conference of tenants held at Umar Tanda (Hoshiarpur) in February.
1949 Arrested on April 1 and jailed at District Jail, Hisar. Was handcuffed and released on April 5.
1950 Addressed several public meetings of tenant peasants at Girhai, Sirsa, and Dabwali.
Arrested by Delhi Police on July 27 and sent to District Jail, Hisar.
Later shifted from Hisar to Dharamshala Jail and further transferred to Yol Camp Jail in District Kangra. Kept in solitary confinement.
Set free on September 26 due to public pressure.
Became a member of the District Board, Hisar and President of the District Kisan Conference Committee, Hisar.
1952 Elected as a Member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly in the first general election after Independence.
Elected as a member of PPCC and a delegate to the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
1956 Made the Chief Parliamentary Secretary on April 23.
1957 Inducted as a member of the 14 member ‘Zila Data Sangh’ (District Donors Association) formed under the chairmanship of Dada Ganeshi Lal of Hisar.
1958 Elected as the President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee on March 23.
Resigned on April 4.
1962 Resigned from INC on January 27.
Elected to Punjab Legislative Assembly from Fatehabad constituency as an independent candidate in February. Formed the Progressive Independence Party on March 14. Elected as a Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Legislative Assembly.
1963 Elected convener of ‘Joint Front’ on July 28.
Recognised as an opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly.
1966 Joined Congress again on November 1 along with his group and contested from Haryana.
1967 Left Congress in March and formed a new Party named Haryana Congress.
1968 Joined INC again on November 11.
Appointed Chairman of the Haryana Khadi and Industries Board.
1969 Appointed Chairman of the Congress Legislature Party in the Punjab Assembly in March.
1971 Quit Congress on March 17.
Became President of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti.
1972 Defeated in the Haryana Legislative Assembly elections from Tosham and Adampur.
1973 Addressed his first rally at Sirsa on May 29.
Was arrested and sent to Central Jail, Ambala.
1974 Won the election from Rori constituency to the Haryana Legislative Assembly.
Formed Bharatiya Lok Dal.
Appointed Vice Chairman of the state unit of the party in Haryana.
1975 Arrested on June 26 on the promulgation of Internal Emergency by Shrimati Indira Gandhi and was detained under MISA.
Lodged in several jails like Sohna, Mohindergarh, Hisar, Gurgaon, Rohtak and Narnaul.
1977 Freed from Jail on January 26.
Elected MLA from Bhattu Kalan as a Janta Party Candidate. Became the Chief Minister of Haryana on June 21.
1979 Resigned on June 28 from the Post of Chief Minister.
1980 Elected to the Lok Sabha in January from the Sonepat Constituency and appointed Chairman of the State Parliamentary Board.
1982 Elected member of Haryana Legislative Assembly from Mohana constituency.
1984 Became President of Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Party of the State Unit.
1985 Became President of Haryana Sangharsh Samiti on July 27.
Elected member of Haryana Legislative Assembly from Meham on September 22.
Declared a Nyaya Yudh and began a historic Yatra for mass awakening on December 5 from Hisar.
1986 Held the historic Samast Haryana Sammelan on March 23 at Jind.
1987 Became the Chief Minister of Haryana on June 20.
1988 Begna Chetana Yatra.
1989 Elected as a leader of the Parliamentary Party Janta Dal.
Became Deputy Prime Minister of India and Union Minister of Agriculture on December 2.
1990 Dismissed from the post of Deputy Prime Minister on July 31 after the Boat Club Rally in Delhi.
Became Deputy Prime Minister of India and Union Agriculture Minister for the second time in November.
1991 On March 7, the central government collapsed.
1992 Started Chetna Yatra on March 23 from Rajghat in New Delhi.
1999 Elected member of Rajya Sabha.
2001 Died on April 6 in New Delhi.
Cremated on April 7 at Kisan Ghat on the banks of the river Yamuna.