M A I N   N E W S

Bansi Lal dead
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The architect of modern Haryana, Bansi Lal, is no more. He breathed his last at 11 pm tonight at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, where he had been undergoing treatment for the past few days. He was 79.

The Haryana Government has declared a holiday tomorrow in respect of the former Chief Minister. A three-day morning has also been announced.

According to Rajinder Singh Chahar, a son-in-law of the leader, the body will be taken to his native district, Bhiwani, tonight itself.

The cremation will take place at Golagarh, Bansi Lal’s ancestral village, at 4 pm tomorrow. He would be given a state funeral.

When "Babuji", as he was known to his admirers, breathed his last, his elder son, Ranbir Mahendra, former President of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI); his daughters — Sumitra, Saroj, Savita and Sunita — and their husbands — Capt Gulab Singh, Dr Kartar Singh, Mr Somvir, MLA, and Mr Chahar — were at his bedside.

Haryana Minister Kiran Choudhary, his younger daughter-in-law, who is in Australia, has been informed.

A chronic asthmatic, Bansi Lal also had a heart condition. His health deteriorated fast after the tragic death of his younger son, Surender Singh, in a chopper crash on March 31 last year.

Surender Singh, a former Haryana Minister, was the political inheritor of Bansi Lal and had left the Congress along with his father to form the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) in early 1990s.

It was under the banner of the HVP that Bansi Lal, in alliance with the BJP, became the Chief Minister of Haryana for the fourth time, after nine years, in 1996.

However, he could not complete his full tenure following the withdrawal of support first by the BJP and then by the Congress.

After that, Bansi Lal’s political fortunes had been on a constant decline. He had to merge his party with the Congress ultimately before the last Assembly elections.

Bansi Lal became Haryana’s Chief Minister for the first time in 1968, just two years after the state came into existence.

With his administrative acumen and support from Indira Gandhi, he made Haryana a name in development.

He was a close confidante of Ms Gandhi before and during the Emergency. Many allege that it was he who advised Ms Gandhi to impose the Emergency and arrest Opposition leaders following the Allahabad High Court judgment annulling her election to the Lok Sabha.

He was arrested by the Devi Lal Government after the Emergency was lifted.

Haryana Governor A.R. Kidwai has mourned the death of the leader.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who will reach Bhiwani tomorrow to attend the cremation, said the nation and the state had lost an able administrator.

Finance Minister Birender Singh, who reached the AIIMS soon after the news broke, said with the death of Bansi Lal, an era had passed.

Irrigation Minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, whose father was a colleague of Bansi Lal, said Haryana had lost its maker.


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