Nation remembers Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant on his 131st birth anniversary

By Archana Sharma

Today is the 131st birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Govind Ballabh Pant. He is one of the prominent names in Indian independence struggle and its history, who worked aggressively shaping modern India. Lets us remember his legacy on this day.

Govind Ballabh Pant was born on September 10, 1887 in Khoont, Uttarakhand in a Brahman family. He started his career as a lawyer in Kashipur, and actively campaigned against the British Raj. In 1914, he helped a village council to effectively challenge a law that required locals, known as ‘coolie beggars’, to carry the luggage of travelling British officers for free. After gaining popularity, he entered into politics in 1921, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. He was an unstoppable soul and worked passionately for the betterment of the society and freedom struggle.

He organized the famous Salt March in 1930 (inspired by Mahatma Gandhi), for which he was arrested and imprisoned by the British Government.  In 1935, he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly. He won the respect of the leaders of the Congress with his political skills and soon became deputy leader of the Congress party in the Assembly. In the 1937 election, he was elected unchallenged as the leader of the Congress Party in the United Provinces (present day Uttar Pradesh) and became the first Chief Minister of the United Provinces under the Government of India Act, 1935. As Chief Minister, he brought about several necessary reforms in the State.

In 1939, when India was pulled into the Second World War, several Congress ministers, including Pandit Pant, resigned as a mark of protest. He acted as a tiebreaker between Gandhi’s and Bose’s conflicting approaches to the war. In 1940, he took part in Gandhi’s Satyagraha Movement as a result of which he was imprisoned again.

In 1940, he was arrested for organizing Satyagraha Movement. He got arrested again in the year 1942 for signing the Quit India resolution. It was Jawaharlal Nehru, who pleaded for the release of G.B. Pant.

After signing the Quit India resolution in 1942, he was arrested and was let free in March 1945 after Jawaharlal Nehru his release on grounds of deteriorating health. Later, when the war was over, the British Labour government held elections to the Provisional legislatures, and he emerged as the leader of the Party in United Provinces once again. He became the Chief Minister of the state for the second time continuing even after India’s independence in 1947.

He became the first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and operated office from 26 January 1950 to 27 December 1954. Later, in 1955, he was inducted into Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet and was made the Union Home Minister. He served in this position till he died in 1961.

Major works of Govind Ballabh Pant

  • As a young lawyer, Pandit Pant successfully campaigned against the British Raj in 1914, by challenging a law against ‘coolie beggars’ to carry the luggage of British officers for free.
  • He was an active participant in both the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • After India’s independence, as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he was successful in stabilizing the economic condition of the state. His major contribution to the society was to abolish the Zamindari system, making monogamy compulsory for Hindu men and conferred Hindu women the rights to divorce and inherit ancestral property.
  • As Home Minister, he was successful in re-organising the States along linguistic lines. He established Hindi as an official language of the central government and a few other states.

Awards & Achievements

In 1957, he was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, for his selfless service to the nation.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1960, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant suffered a heart attack. As the then Home Minister of India, he received the best treatment available but his health deteriorated further. After suffering a cerebral stroke he passed away on 7 March 1961, at the age of 74. His son, Krishna Chandra Pant was also a noted politician. His other children were Lakshmi Pant and Pushpa Pant.

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