Charan Singh


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

Charan Singh
Charan Singh
Official portrait, 1979
5th Prime Minister of India
In office
28 July 1979 – 14 January 1980
PresidentNeelam Sanjiva Reddy
Vice PresidentB. D. Jatti
Mohammad Hidayatullah
DeputyYashwantrao Chavan
Preceded byMorarji Desai
Succeeded byIndira Gandhi
3rd Deputy Prime Minister of India
In office
24 January 1979 – 16 July 1979
Serving with Jagjivan Ram
Prime MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byMorarji Desai
Succeeded byYashwantrao Chavan
Minister of Finance
In office
24 January 1979 – 16 July 1979
Prime MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byH. M. Patel
Succeeded byHemvati Nandan Bahuguna
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
24 March 1977 – 1 July 1978
Prime MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byKasu Brahmananda Reddy
Succeeded byMorarji Desai
5th Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
In office
18 February 1970 – 1 October 1970
Preceded byChandra Bhanu Gupta
Succeeded byPresident's rule
In office
3 April 1967 – 25 February 1968
Preceded byChandra Bhanu Gupta
Succeeded byPresident's rule
Personal details
Chaudhary Charan Singh

(1902-12-23)23 December 1902
Noorpur, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, British India
(present-day Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died29 May 1987(1987-05-29) (aged 84)
New Delhi, India
Political partyLokdal (own party; 1980–1987)
Other political
Indian National Congress (Before 1967)
Bharatiya Lok Dal (1967–1977)
Janata Party (1977–1979)
Janata Party (Secular) (1979–1980)
SpouseGayatri Devi
Children6; including Ajit Singh
Alma materAgra University

Charan Singh was born on 23 December 1902 in a rural peasant Hindu Jat family of the Teotia clan[2] of village Noorpur, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh.[3] Charan Singh entered politics as part of the Indian Independence Movement motivated by Mahatma 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 to 1967, he was one of "three principal leaders in Congress state politics." 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 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 Uttar Pradesh 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." It is also worth noting that within the factional Uttar Pradesh Congress, his ability to articulate his clear policies and values made him stand out from his colleagues. Following this period, Charan Singh defected from the Congress on 1 April 1967, joined the opposition party, and became the first non-Congress chief minister of UP.[4] 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.

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.[5] Fresh elections were held six months later. Charan Singh continued to lead the Lok Dal in opposition until his death in 1987.

Early years – pre-Independence IndiaEdit

Charan Singh's ancestor was a prominent leader of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Raja Nahar Singh of Ballabhgarh (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 of Noorpur in the Meerut district in the Rohilkhand region of the North-Western part of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in British India (present-day in Bijnor district, Uttar Pradesh, India) into a rural peasant Hindu Jat family of the Teotia clan. 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 12 years 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 IndiaEdit

Charan Singh opposed Jawaharlal Nehru on his Soviet-style economic reforms. 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.[4] 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.

Prime MinistershipEdit

When the Janata Party won the Lok Sabha elections in 1977, its MPs authorized Congress elders Jayaprakash Narayan and Acharya Kripalani to choose the Prime Minister. Morarji Desai was chosen and he named Singh Home Minister. Singh was asked to resign in June 1978 following disagreements with Desai, but was brought back to the cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister in January 1979. The truce did not last long, and a mutiny reduced the government to a minority. Charan Singh was sworn in as Prime Minister on 28 July 1979, with outside support from Indira Gandhi's Congress (I) party and with Yeshwantrao Chavan of the Congress (Socialist) party as his Deputy Prime Minister. Just before he was to confirm his majority in the Lok Sabha, Indira Gandhi withdrew support to his government. He resigned on 20 August 1979, after just 23 days in office, becoming the only Prime Minister never to obtain the confidence of Parliament. Singh then advised President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy to dissolve the Lok Sabha. Janata Party leader Jagjivan Ram challenged that advice and sought time to cobble support, but the Lok Sabha was dissolved, and Charan Singh continued as caretaker Prime Minister until January 1980.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Charan Singh had six children with wife Gayatri Devi (1905-2002). Gayatri Devi was elected an MLA from Iglas in 1969, from Gokul in 1974, then elected to Lok Sabha from Kairana in 1980, and lost Lok Sabha election from Mathura in 1984. His son Ajit Singh was 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".[7]


He was the chief architect of land reforms in U.P.; he took a leading part in formulation and finalization of the Dept. Redemption Bill 1939, which brought great relief to rural debtors. It was also at his initiative that the salaries and other privileges enjoyed by Ministers in U.P. were drastically reduced. As Chief Minister he was instrumental in bringing about the Land Holding Act 1960 which was aimed at lowering the ceiling on land holdings to make it uniform throughout the State.[citation needed] Since his death, many who knew Singh have ensured his life and work are remembered positively. 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."[4] 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 and Ghat is word for river bank). 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 (29 May 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.

In popular cultureEdit

Kisan Kranti Ke Praneta - Ch. Charan Singh is a 1996 short documentary film directed by Ashok Vazirani and produced by the Films Division of India which covers the life and achievements of the prime minister including his contributions to the Indian agriculture sector.[8][9] Charan Singh has also been portrayed by Anwar Fatehan in the 2013 television series Pradhanmantri (lit.'Prime Minister'), which covers the tenures of Indian PMs,[10] by Sundaram in the 2019 film NTR: Mahanayakudu which is based on the life of Indian actor-politician N. T. Rama Rao.,[11] and by Govind Namdeo in the 2021 film Main Mulayam Singh Yadav which charts the life of former Uttar Pradesh CM Mulayam Singh Yadav.[12]


  • Agrarian Revolution in Uttar Pradesh (1957)[13]
  • Joint Farming X-rayed (1959)[14]
  • India's Economic Policy – The Gandhian Blueprint (1978)[15]
  • Economic Nightmare of India: Its Cause and Cure (1981)[16]
  • Abolition of Zamindari (1947)[17]
  • Whither Co-operative Farming (1956)[18]
  • Prevention of Division of Holdings Below a Certain Minimum
  • India’s Poverty and It’s Solution (1964)[19]
  • Land Reforms in UP and the Kulaks (1986)[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Byres, Terence J. (1 January 1988). "Charan Singh, 1902–87: An assessment". The Journal of Peasant Studies. 15 (2): 139–189. doi:10.1080/03066158808438356.
  2. ^ "Prime Ministers of India - Charan Singh".
  3. ^ The Churchill Centre (2002). "India: Making headway with the critics". The Churchill Centre. Archived from the original on 23 June 2006. Retrieved 11 July 2006.
  4. ^ a b c Brass, Paul R. (1993). "Chaudhuri Charan Singh: An Indian Political Life". Economic and Political Weekly. 28 (39): 2087–2090. JSTOR 4400204.
  5. ^ "Charan singh resigns". The Glasgow Herald. 21 August 1979. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Forty Years Ago, August 21, 1979: Charan Govt Resigns". 21 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Charan Singh Dead". The Indian Express. 30 May 1987. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  8. ^ "KISAN KRANTI KE PRENTA CHOWDHARY CHARAN SINGH | Films Division". Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  9. ^ Films Division, Kisan Kranti Ke Praneta - Ch. Charan Singh - Part 2, archived from the original on 21 December 2021, retrieved 10 June 2021
  10. ^ "Pradhanmantri - Episode 13: India after emergency, Janata Party wins general election". ABP News. 6 October 2013. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  11. ^ "NTR: Kathanayakudu". Amazon Prime Video. Archived from the original on 11 June 2021. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Main Mulayam Singh Yadav | Official Trailer". YouTube. 15 July 2020. Archived from the original on 21 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Agrarian Revolution in Uttar Pradesh | Charan Singh". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  14. ^ "Joint Farming X-Rayed: the Problem and its Solution | Charan Singh". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  15. ^ "India's Economic Policy – The Gandhian Blueprint | Charan Singh". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  16. ^ "Economic Nightmare of India – Its Cause and Cure | Charan Singh". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  17. ^ "Abolition of Zamindari, Two Alternatives | Charan Singh". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  18. ^ "Whither Co-operative Farming | Charan Singh Archives". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  19. ^ "India's Poverty and It's Solution | Charan Singh". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Land Reforms in UP and the Kulaks | Charan Singh". 22 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2021.

Further readingEdit

  • Paul R Brass (2012). An Indian Political Life: Charan Singh and Congress Politics, 1957 to 1967. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-81-321-0947-1.

External linksEdit

  •   Media related to Charan Singh at Wikimedia Commons
  •   Quotations related to Charan Singh at Wikiquote
  • Works by Charan Singh at Open Library  
  • Public archives on Charan Singh
Political offices
Preceded by Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Succeeded by
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Prime Minister of India
Served alongside: Jagjivan Ram
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of India
Succeeded by
Chairperson of the Planning Commission