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Posted at: Oct 30, 2016, 1:08 AM; last updated: Oct 30, 2016, 11:48 AM (IST)PUNJAB ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS — 1951-1952

Prominent Players

Bhim Sen Sachar

He joined the Indian National Congress party at a young age. In 1921, he was elected as the Secretary of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. By the time India gained independence in 1947, he was an important member of the party. In 1949, the party selected him for the office of Chief Minister of Punjab. He took oath on 13 April 1949 and served until 18 October 1949. The first elections in independent India were held in 1952 and the Punjab legislative assembly was formed for the first time that year. The Congress party won the provincial elections at this time, and Sachar became chief minister again, serving from 17 April 1952 to 23 January 1956.

Gopi Chand Bhargava

Gopi Chand Bhargava (8 March 1889 – 1966) was the first Chief Minister of Punjab. Dr Gopi Chand Bhargava was elected as the leader of assembly of East Punjab and hence became the first CM of Punjab after independence.

He was born in 1889 in Sarsa district of undivided Punjab, which is now in Haryana. He passed MBBS from Medical College, Lahore in 1912 and started medical profession in 1913. He belonged to Indian National Cogress (INC) and became chief minister of the state for three times. He first became chief minister of Punjab on 15 August, 1947 and was in the chair till 13 April, 1949. Then he again became CM of the state for second time from 18 October, 1949 to 20 June 1951. On 21 June, 1964 he became the cm of Punjab for the third time and remained the chief minister till 6 July, 1964. He died on 26 December, 1966.

Giani Kartar Singh

Giani Kartar Singh, (1902-1974), was an Akali leader, known for his political astuteness, who dominated Sikh politics during the 1940s and 1950s. He had a religious bent of mind and during his school days led a kirtan jatha which earned him the epithet giani (learned in religious texts). Giani Kartar Singh was attracted to politics in his early youth. In 1924, he was appointed general secretary of the Lyallpur district branch of the Shiromani Akali Dal. In 1937, he was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Samundari Jarharivala constituency of Lyallpur district. In 1943, in reaction to Muslim League`s demand for a separate Muslim State, Giani Kartar Singh put forward a demand for Azad Punjab. It envisaged carving out a new unit, Azad Punjab, from the existing Punjab, which would included the maximum Sikh population. This formed the basis of the Akali standpoint at the subsequent political negotiations during which Giani Kartar Singh ranked next only to Master Tara Singh as representative of the Sikh opinion. 

Giani Kartar Singh was a minister in the East Punjab government under Chief Minister Gopi Chand Bhargava and was assigned to the portfolios of revenue and development. He continued in the ministry headed by Bhim Sen Sachar which in fact he, with his group of 22 MLAs, had helped to form in March 1949. 

He was the architect of what came to be known as the Giani-Sachar formula, according to which East Punjab was demarcated into Punjabi-speaking and Hindi-speaking areas a demarcation which laid the foundation of a Punjabi-speaking state, called Punjabi Suba. 

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Baba Kharak Singh

Baba Kharak Singh (1868 - 1963) was a Sikh political leader and virtually the first president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

It was the Jallianvala Bagh massacre of 1919 which brought Kharak Singh actively into Sikh politics In 1920, he became president of the Central Sikh league council and led the Sikhs to participate in the non-co-operation movement. In 1920'S, he was elected president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. He successfully led in 1921-22 the agitation for the restoration to the Sikhs of the keys of the Golden Templc treasury seized by the British Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, and underwent first of his numerous jail terms. 

He was a firm protagonist of national unity and opposed both the Muslim League's demand for Pakistan and the Akali proposal for an Azad Punjab. After 1947, he stayed in Delhi in virtual retirement, and died there on 6 October 1963 at the ripe age of 95.

Master Tara Singh (1885 - 1967)

Master Tara Singh was a prominent Sikh political and religious leader in the first half of the 20th century. He was instrumental in organising the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee and guiding the Sikhs during the Partition of India. He later led their demand for a Sikh-majority state in Punjab, India. 

Tara Singh was born on 24 June 1885 to a Hindu family in Rawalpindi, which was then a part of Punjab Province in British India. He converted to Sikhism while a student and became a high school teacher upon his graduation from Khalsa College in Amritsar in 1907. 

Singh was ardent in his desire to promote and protect the cause of Sikhism. This often put him at odds with civil authorities and he was jailed on 14 occasions for civil disobedience beteween 1930-1966. Early examples of his support for civil disobedience came through his close involvement with the movement led by Mohandas K. Gandhi. He became a leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) political party, which was the major force in Sikh politics, and he was similarly involved with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. 

During the Partition of India, over one million Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were killed and families were displaced as they migrated across the new India-Pakistan border. During this period, many alleged that Tara Singh was endorsing the killing of Punjabi's. On 3 March 1947, at Lahore, Singh along with about 500 Sikhs declared from a dais "Death to Pakistan".

Singh's most significant cause was that favouring the creation of a distinct Punjabi-speaking state. He believed that this would best protect the integrity of Sikh religious and political traditions. He began a fast unto death in 1961 at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, unless the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to his demand for such a state. Nehru argued that India was a secular country and that this creation of a state based on religious distinction was inappropriate. Nonetheless, Nehru did promise to consider the issue and thus Singh abandoned his fast after 48 days. Singh's fellow Sikhs turned against him, believing that he had capitulated, and they put him on trial in a court adjudged by pijaras. He pleaded guilty to the charges laid against him and found his reputation in tatters. He was thought to have abandoned his ideals and was replaced as leader of the SAD.

The linguistic division of the Indian state of Punjab eventually took place in 1966, with the Hindi-speaking areas redesignated as a part of the state of Haryana. Singh himself died in Chandigarh on 22 November 1967.


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