Bansi Lal

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Bansi Lal Legha
Bansi Lal.jpg
Minister of Defence
In office
21 December 1975 – 24 March 1977
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byIndira Gandhi
Succeeded byJagjivan Ram
Minister of Railways
In office
31 December 1984 – 4 June 1986
Prime MinisterRajiv Gandhi
Preceded byA. B. A. Ghani Khan Choudhury
Succeeded byMohsina Kidwai
3rd Chief Minister of Haryana
In office
22 May 1968 – 30 November 1975
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byBanarsi Das Gupta
In office
5 July 1986 – 19 June 1987
Preceded byBhajan Lal
Succeeded byChaudhary Devi Lal
In office
11 May 1996 – 23 July 1999
Preceded byBhajan Lal
Succeeded byOm Prakash Chautala
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Bhiwani
In office
Preceded byChandrawati
Succeeded byChaudhary Ram Narain Singh
In office
Preceded byChaudhary Ram Narain Singh
Succeeded byJangbir Singh
Personal details
Born26 August 1927
Golagarh, Punjab, British India
Died28 March 2006 (2006-03-29) (aged 78)
New Delhi, India

Bansi Lal Legha (26 August 1927 – 28 March 2006) was an Indian independence activist, senior Congress leader, former Chief Minister of Haryana, former Defence Minister of India, and the architect of modern Haryana.[1] Bansi Lal was part of the famous Lal trio of Haryana which also included 'Tau' Devi Lal and Bhajan Lal, that form the major Political families of Haryana.[2]

Lal was elected to the Haryana State Assembly seven times, the first time in 1967 from Tosham. He served three separate terms as Chief Minister of Haryana: 1968–75, 1986–87, and 1996–99. Bansi Lal was considered a close confidante of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency era of 1975 -1977. [2]

His younger son died at 59 in 2005

He served as the Defence Minister of India from December 1975 to March 1977, and had a brief stint as a Minister without Portfolio in the Union government in 1975. He also held the Railways and Transport portfolios.

He set up Haryana Vikas Party after parting ways with the Indian National Congress in 1996. He returned to Congress in 2004, and helped the Congress to win the 2005 Assembly elections.[2]

Early life[edit]

He was born on 26 August 1927 to Choudhary Mohar Singh and Shrimati Vidya Devi[3] belonging to Hindu Jat community[4] in the village of Golagarh in Bhiwani district, British Punjab (now Haryana). Following his marriage, Lal had two sons, Surendra Singh, and Ranbir Singh Mahendra.[5]


Bansi Lal did his BA in arts, followed by LLB (law degree), for which he studied at the Punjab University Law College, Jalandhar.[3]

Political career[edit]

  • Lal was secretary of Parja mandal in the Loharu State, from 1943 to 1944.
  • Lal was president of the Bar Association, Bhiwani from 1957 to 1958. He was president of the District Congress Committee, Hisar, from 1959 to 1962 and later became a member of the Congress Working Committee and Congress Parliamentary Board.
  • He was a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee between 1958 and 1962.
  • He was Haryana's Chief Minister : from 1968 to 1975 (Congress), 1985 to 1987 (Congress), and 1996 to 1999 with Haryana Vikas Party.
  • He was the Defence Minister of India from December 1975 to March 1977.
  • He was also the chairman of the Committee of Parliament and Committee on Public Undertakings, 1980–82, and the Committee on Estimates, 1982–84.
  • He became Railways minister of India on 31 December 1984 in Rajiv Gandhi's ministry and later minister for transport.
  • He was elected to the Haryana State Assembly five times from Tosham (1967, 1972, 1986 bye-poll, 1991, 1996). He lost once from Tosham in 1987 Devi Lal wave, just a few months after winning the seat with more than 80,000 votes in 1986.[6]
  • He was a Rajya Sabha member from 1960 to 1966 and 1976 to 1980. He was a Lok Sabha member from Bhiwani three times : 1980 to 1984, 1985 to 1986, and 1989 to 1991. He lost from Bhiwani in 1977 due to the Janata wave.
  • After he parted company with Congress in 1996, Bansi Lal set up the Haryana Vikas Party and his campaign against prohibition propelled him to power in the assembly polls the same year.
  • Chronologically : Rajya Sabha MP (1960-1966), Haryana MLA (1967-1975), Rajya Sabha (1976-1980 but lost Bhiwani Lok Sabha election in 1977), Lok Sabha MP from 1980-1984, 1984-1986, Haryana MLA 1986-1987, lost assembly election in 1987, became Lok Sabha MP 1989-1991, Haryana MLA 1991-1996 and 1996 to 2000.

Chief Minister of Haryana[edit]

Bansi Lal became the Chief Minister of Haryana four times in 1968, 1972, 1986 and 1996. He was the third chief minister of Haryana after Bhagwat Dayal Sharma and Rao Birender Singh. He became Haryana chief minister for the first time on 31 May 1968 at the age of 41 making him the youngest chief minister in the country at the time, and remained in office till 13 March 1972. On 14 March 1972, he occupied the top post in the state for the second time and was in office till 29 November 1975. The third and fourth times he was appointed chief minister was from 5 June 1986 to 19 June 1987 and 11 May 1996 to 23 July 1999.

Bansi Lal was elected to the state assembly seven times, the first time being in 1967. After Haryana was formed in 1966, much of the state's industrial and agricultural development, especially creation of infrastructure, took place due to Lal's initiatives. He was elected to the state assembly for seven times in 1967, 1968, 1972, 1986, 1991 and 2000.

He was responsible for electrifying all villages in Haryana during his tenure as chief minister in the late sixties and seventies. He was also the pioneer of highway tourism in the state – a model later adopted by a number of states. He is regarded by many as an "Iron man" who was always close to reality and took keen interest in the upliftment of the community. Lal became one of the first Chief Ministers to visit Israel, when he led a delegation of agriculturalists and sarpanches to the country in 1971.

Even before the emergency he ruled the state of Haryana in an authoritarian fashion, within the first six and a half years of his rule as chief minister, the Haryana police took into custody more than 143,000 people, including many of his political opponents.[7] He was known to dislike journalists and press especially those critical of him. Two months before the emergency he sent his goons with a senior municipal officer to demolish the offices of Chetna, a Bhiwani based newspaper which was critical of him, and one day after the Emergency was declared arrested it's editor Devabrata Vasisht along with his father.[8] In other instances he tamed press critical of him like the Tribune at Chandigarh, by denying it government advertisements and using the police to fine vehicles that carried the paper to Haryana.[9]

In 1974, Bansi Lal's son, Surender Singh along with a police escort stormed into the house of Bhanwar Singh, a student union leader at Bhiwani college, in Rewasa. They dragged Bhanwar, his sister, and his grandmother, the two siblings were stripped naked and made to lie on the same cot, while Bhanwar's grandmother was kicked to death. The journalist Makhan Lal Kak who reported this story was locked up on the very first day of the emergency, while the deputy superintendent who took part in this was given a promotion.[7]

Bansi Lal also brought the Maruti Car project to Haryana, which was Sanjay Gandhi's pet project, he provided over 297.3 acres of land for Maruti factory in the district of Gurgaon, of which 157 acres belonged to the Ministry of Defense, and 140 acres were highly fertile and populated land that belonged to many farmers.[10] He also provided Maruti a government loan to cover the costs of this purchase.[9] To this end 15,000 farmers were evicted.[11]

Bansi Lal did not contest the assembly elections in 2005 but his sons Surender Singh and Ranbir Singh Mahendra were elected to the state assembly. Surender Singh died in a helicopter crash near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh on 31 March 2005.

Role during Emergency[edit]

Lal was in the limelight when Emergency was imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. He was a confidante of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi during the controversial Emergency days in 1975. He was part of a cabal around Sanjay Gandhi, along with V C Shukla, Om Mehta, et al., which came to be known as 'the Emergency caucus'. This group, led by Sanjay Gandhi, was said to be responsible for various harsh steps during the Emergency.[12]

He was the defence minister from 21 December 1975 to 24 March 1977 and a minister without portfolio in the Union government from 1 December 1975 to 20 December 1975. The Shah Commission of Inquiry which was formed at end of the Emergency noted that Lal often misused his official position for personal reasons.[13]


Lal died in New Delhi on 28 March 2006 at the age of 78. He had been unwell for quite some time.[14]

Awards and honours[edit]


Prominent Family Members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bansi Lal dead".
  2. ^ a b c "Bansi Lal RIP".
  3. ^ a b[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ Mahendra Singh Rana (2006). India Votes: Lok Sabha & Vidhan Sabha Elections 2001-2005. Sarup & Sons. p. 234. ISBN 978-81-7625-647-6.
  5. ^ "Bansi Lal, R.I.P."
  6. ^ "Bansi Lal family making bid to regain traditional seat".
  7. ^ a b {cite book|last=Christophe Jaffrelot|first=Pratinav Anil|url='s first dictatorship : the emergency, 1975-77|date=2020|isbn=978-0-19-758330-2|location=London|oclc=1256822934}}
  8. ^ Thakur, Janardan (1977). All the Prime Minister's men (1st ed.). New Delhi: Vikas Pub. House. pp. 45–46. ISBN 0-7069-0566-0. OCLC 4028655.
  9. ^ a b Nayar, Kuldip (1977). The judgment : inside story of the emergency in India. New Delhi: Vikas Pub. House. pp. 25, 7. ISBN 0-7069-0557-1. OCLC 3497203.
  10. ^ Oldenburg, Veena Talwar (2018). Gurgaon : from mythic village to millennium city. Uttar Pradesh, India. ISBN 978-93-5302-035-4. OCLC 1054689671.
  11. ^ "When Indira Gandhi declared Emergency: 44 years ago, the build-up to the suspension of our liberties".
  12. ^ "Why I Supported Emergency | Outlook India Magazine".
  13. ^ "Emergency villains who got away".
  14. ^ "Former Haryana CM Bansi Lal dead". The Times of India.
  15. ^ "Hooda holds rally in memory of Bansi Lal". The Indian Express. 22 December 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  • Bansi Lal: Chief Minister of Haryana By S. R. Bakshi, Sita Ram Sharma 1998 ISBN 9788170249856