Chaudhary Charan Singh

Chaudhary Charan Singh was the 5th prime minister of India. He also served as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on two distinct occasions. Historians and people alike frequently refer to him as the ‘champion of India’s peasants’.

Chaudhary Charan Singh, son of Smt. Netra Kaur and Chaudhary Meer Singh, was born on 23 December 1902 in Noorpur village in Meerut District of Uttar Pradesh. Chaudhary Charan Singh had his primary education in his native village school at Jani Khurd, and passed his matriculation from the Government High School, Meerut. He graduated in Science from Agra College in 1923, did his M.A. in History from Agra University, passed the L.L.B. examination in 1927 and got himself enrolled as an advocate in Ghaziabad.

In his youth, Chaudhary Charan Singh exhibited a strong social conscience, and the will to act in accordance with his moral compass. The ideas and teachings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj had a deep influence on him. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, Chaudhary Charan Singh joined the freedom movement.

In 1930, he was sentenced to six months in prison for contravening the salt law. He was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in 1940. Released in October 1941, Chaudhary Charan Singh was arrested again in 1942 under the Defence of India Rule.

On 1 April 1967, Chaudhary Charan Singh quit the Congress, and on 3 April 1967, Chaudhary Charan Singh was elected as leader of the Samyukta Vidhayak Dal and as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. In February 1970, Chaudhary Charan Singh became the Chief Minister of the State for a second time. His tenures as Chief Minister have been described by many as golden chapters in the history of the state of U.P.

Chaudhary Charan Singh’s vision for social equity, and his ability to create political consensus on issues, resulted in important pieces of legislation in the State Assembly. Some of the notable achievements were the Debt Redemption Bill, 1939, The Consolidation of Holdings Act of 1953, and the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari and land Reforms Act, 1952, which resulted in the abolition of the Zamindari system throughout the State. The land reforms in the state empowered the tillers, provided the landless with ownership of land and thus created the enabling environment for their social and economic upliftment. The Agricultural Produce Marketing Bill, which he introduced in the assembly in 1938, was passed in 1964, and helped improve the market linkages for the farmers. The consecutive years of drought in 1966-1967 led the Central government to consider procuring food grains directly from farmers at prices, which would have been highly unfavorable to them. Chaudhary Charan Singh modified the central government plan to the advantage of agriculturalists by offering them a much higher procurement price than the prevailing market rates. The infrastructure he put in place for this led in time to the Minimum Support Price mechanism, which has today become an integral part of government interventions to provide pricing stability to the agricultural producers.

Chaudhary Charan Singh was arrested on the night of 26th June 1975, with the imposition of emergency. He merged his Bhartiya Lok Dal with the Janata Party of which he was a founder member. Chaudhary Charan Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1977 General Elections, and was Home Minister in the Janata party Government. In January 1979, he was appointed Finance Minister and subsequently elevated to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. He was sworn in as the Prime Minister on 28 July 1979.

The first thing our leadership in 1947 should have done was to delegalize all communal bodies.

- Chaudhary Charan Singh

Chaudhary Ajit Singh

Chaudhary Ajit Singh, a computer scientist who collaborated with IBM in the 1960s, established the Rashtriya Lok Dal in 1997. He served six terms as a Lok Sabha member for the Baghpat constituency and he held the post of Cabinet Minister 4 times in his political career. Throughout his life, he fought for farmers and agricultural reforms. He was affectionately known as ‘Chhote Choudhary Saheb.’

He led his own faction of Lok Dal (Ajit) in 1987. He was President of Janata Party in 1988 and was elected as Secretary-General in 1989 of the Janata Dal, and a Member of Parliament in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections.

In December 1989, Ch. Ajit Singh became the Union Cabinet Minister for Industry in the National Front Government of Late Shri VP Singh (from December, 1989 to November, 1990). He was re-elected in 1991 as Member of Parliament from Janata Dal. He was appointed Cabinet Minister of Food in February, 1995 in the Congress Government and held the post till May, 1996.

Ch. Ajit Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha again in 1996 and left the congress party to form his own Bharatiya Kisan Kamgar Party (BKKP). He resigned his membership as MP from Lok Sabha and contested the bye-election caused by his resignation as a BKKP candidate. In 1999, he contested Lok Sabha polls as a candidate of the Rashtriya Lokdal. In July 2001, he was sworn in as Cabinet Minister for Agriculture and served in the position till May 2003.

Ch. Ajit Singh is a prominent advocate for a ‘rural development focussed’ model of growth. He has pushed for increased investment in the rural economy and introduction of measures to propagate sustainable technologies for improving agricultural productivity, and economic yields for farmers. Notably, in 1996, he reduced the circle distance between sugar mills from 25 km to 15 km, which resulted in greater investments and competition in the sugar industry and higher realizations for farmers. As Agriculture Minister, he also instituted the credit linked subsidy scheme for augmenting cold storage capacity, which enabled much needed flow of private investment into the industry.

As Agriculture Minister Ch Ajit Singh was prompt in providing relief to the farmers facing the crisis of the 2002 drought. He extended assistance from the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) which was till then restricted to farmers holding two hectares of land or less, to all farmers (this was critical for the farming community particularly in areas where the average landholding was high but productivity was low). He has spearheaded the public movement against the antiquated and inequitable land acquisition laws in the country, and also the successful agitation by the sugarcane farmers in Delhi against the FRP Amendment (2009) to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. He is a votary of the movement for reorganizing of some of India’s large and administratively unwieldy states including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

Ch. Ajit Singh served as Chairman of the Kisan Trust founded by former Prime Minister, late Chaudhary Charan Singh in 1978.

It was you who gave me the flag of RLD and made me understand the problems of farmers. The padyatra of 1988 from Meerut to Lucknow is an important milestone in this journey. We have fought battles for farmers' welfare from the streets to the Parliament.

- Chaudhary Ajit Singh

Jayant Chaudhary

Chaudhary Jayant Singh ji is the national president of Rashtriya Lok Dal and Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh. He was elected as MP from Mathura in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Jayant Chaudhary always raises issues which concern common people and the nation in the Parliament.

Born on 27th December 1978, Jayant did his undergraduate studies from Shri Venkateswara College, Delhi University, and in 2002 completed an MSc in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Jayant has been a vocal critic of the 1894 land acquisition law and the large-scale acquisition of fertile lands in the State of Uttar Pradesh. He was at the forefront of a number of agitations to protest the unfair acquisition of land in the State and in particular, the agitations in the Noida, Greater Noida, Mathura, Hathras, Agra and Aligarh districts.

The agitations and the violence against protestors at Bhatta Parsaul, Bajna and Tappal recently led to a nationwide debate on the misuse of the provisions of the Acquisition Act, and the indiscriminate use of force on protesters.

On 26th August 2010, thousands of farmers came to protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi where Jayant Chaudhary forcefully called for the Central Government to intervene and move to pass a new Land Acquisition law in parliament.

On 5th August, 2011, Jayant introduced a Private Member’s Bill on Land Acquisition in the Lok Sabha. The main tenets of the Bill included measures for limiting the government’s acquisition for private profit and the use of urgency clause in acquiring land. The proposal calls for return of land to landowners in case the land is not utilized in the stated land use within a period of five years, including intended land use as a parameter in calculating market value as compensation for landowners, a time-bound procedure for the acquisition process, compensation and dispute resolution, and a Land Acquisition Compensation Disputes Settlement Authority to adjudicate in disputes.

Jayant is concerned with the impact of climate change on our country, its agriculture and environment. He has spoken out in parliament on the need for countries like India, which have developing and large agrarian economies to come together and adopt a flexible approach that does not create barriers for growth but at the same time addresses the need for a global understanding and commitment on the climate change issue. Jayant is a vocal proponent of renewable energy. He attended a conference by the climate parliament organization in the European Parliament in Brussels in May 2011, and has called for the Government to set a target for India to achieve a 15 % share of solar, wind, biomass and other renewable energy technologies in total electricity supply by 2020.

Jayant also introduced a Private Member’s bill to amend the Right To Information Act to increase the applicability of the act to include PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) to ensure greater transparency.

During his first term in the Lok Sabha, Jayant Chaudhary served as a member of several Parliamentary Committees; the Standing Committees on Commerce, Agriculture and Finance, the Consultative Committee on Finance, the Committee on Ethics, and the Committee on Government Assurances. He was a member of the General Board of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Jayant Chaudhary was the Co-chair of the FICCI Indo-British Forum of Parliamentarians and member of the Indo-Venezuela Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Jayant Chaudhary has been working with several civil society groups, and non-governmental organizations. He served as convener of the ‘Thursday Briefing sessions’ organized by the Constitution Club of India (CCI) in partnership with the PRS Legislative Research for the honorable Members of the Parliament during the session. This forum is a bi-partisan effort to informally debate on important legislations and evolve consensus on issues. He is a key member of the Climate Parliament and Globe India organizations, which work on sensitizing policy makers to climate change and the imperatives to ensure energy security in developing countries.

Jayant Chaudhary is serving as Chairman of the Kisan Trust founded by former Prime Minister, late Chaudhary Charan Singh in 1978.

Peaceful protests are safety valves for people to vent their anger.

- Jayant Chaudhary