“Humare Pyare TAU JI”
Ch. Devi Lal was born to Shugna Devi and Ch. Lekh Ram on 25 September, 1914 in Teja Khera village of Sirsa district. Ch. Lekh Ram was a wealthy Jat landlord of Chautala village and he owned 2750 bighas of land. Ch. Devi Lal, whose original name was Devi Dayal, received education up to middle and also trained as a wrestler at an ‘Akhara’ in Badal village (Punjab). On Mahatma Gandhi’s call, both he and his elder brother Ch Sahib Ram, left their studies unfinished to take part in the freedom movement.
For this he was sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment and sent to Hissar jail on 8 Oct, 1930. He took part in the movement of 1932 and was kept in Sadar Delhi Thana. In 1938 he was selected delegate of All India Congress Committee. In March 1938 his elder brother Ch. Sahib Ram was elected M.L.A. in a by-election on the Congress party ticket. In January, 1940 Ch. Sahib Ram courted arrest as a ‘satyagrahi’ in the presence of Ch. Devi Lal and over ten thousand people. He was fined Rs 100 and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.
Ch. Devi Lal was arrested on 5th October, 1942 and kept in jail for 2 years for taking part in the 1942 Quit India movement. Therefore in 1942, Ch. Lekh Ram’s both sons, Ch. Sahib Ram and Ch. Devi Lal were in the Multan jail for taking part in the freedom struggle. Ch. Devi Lal was released from prison in October, 1943 and he got his elder brother Ch. Sahib Ram released on parole. In August 1944, Sir Chhotu Ram the then Revenue Minister, visited Chautala village. He, along with Lajpat Rai Alakhpura, made efforts to woo both Ch. Sahib Ram and Ch. Devi Lal to desert Congress and join the Unionist Party. But both workers, being dedicated freedom fighters, refused to leave the Congress Party. After independence Ch Devi Lal started a farmer’s movement and was arrested along with his 500 workers. After some time, then Chief Minister Dr. Gopi Chand Bhargawa made an agreement and Muzzara act was amended. He was elected member of Punjab Assembly in 1952, Congress president of Punjab in 1956.
He played an active and decisive role in the formation of Haryana as a separate state. In 1958 he was elected from Sirsa. In 1971 he left the Congress after being in it for 39 years. He was elected in 1974 from Rori constituency against Congress. In 1975 Indira Gandhi declared emergency, and Ch. Devi Lal along with all opposition leaders was sent to jail for 19 months in Hissar Jail and Mahendergarh fort. In 1977 emergency ended and general elections were held. He was elected on Janata Party ticket and became the Chief Minister of Haryana. For his steadfast opposition to Emergency and dictatorial misrule, he became known as Sher-e-Haryana (Lion of Haryana).
He remained member of parliament from 1980 to 1982 and member of State assembly from 1982-1987. He formed Lok Dal and started Nyaya Yudh under ‘Haryana Sangharsh Samiti’ and became hugely popular among masses. In 1987 state elections, the alliance led by Ch. Devi Lal won a record victory winning 85 seats in the 90 member house. Congress was routed in the state winning only 5 seats. Chaudhary Devi Lal became the Chief Minister of Haryana for the second time. In the 1989 parliamentary election, he was simultaneously elected, both from Sikar in Rajasthan and Rohtak in Haryana. He twice became Deputy Prime Minister of India in two different governments. He was elected to Rajya Sabha in August, 1998. At present his son Sh. O. P. Chautala is the Chief Minister of Haryana.
Ch. Devi Lal and his elder brother Ch. Sahib Ram were true Gandhians and freedom fighters. They fought against British rule and played an important role in the freedom movement. After independence, Chaudhary Devi Lal emerged as a leader of farmers in whole of India.. During his two tenures as chief minister of Haryana he made several decisions benefiting farmers and rural people. He always took decisions about the betterment of common people. His popularity among farmers and rural people, earned him the title of ‘Tau’ (Elder Uncle).
Chaudhary Devi Lal passed away on April 6, 2001. His passing away has left a void in Indian politics that can never be filled.