Balwantrai Mehta

Balwantrai Mehta ((1899-02-19)19 February 1899 – (1965-09-19)19 September 1965) was an Indian politician who served as the second Chief Minister of Gujarat state, India. He participated in Indian independence movement and later held various public offices. He is considered as the 'Architect of Panchayati Raj ' due to his contributions towards democratic decentralisation.

Balwantrai Mehta
Balwantrai Mehta 2000 stamp of India (cropped).jpg
2nd Chief Minister of Gujarat
In office
25 February 1963 – 19 September 1965
Preceded byDr. Jivraj Mehta
Succeeded byHitendra K Desai
Personal details
Born(1899-02-19)19 February 1899
Bhavnagar, Bhavnagar State, British India
Died19 September 1965(1965-09-19) (aged 66)
Suthari, Gujarat, India
Political partyIndian National Congress

Early lifeEdit

Balwantrai Gopalji Mehta was born on 19 February 1900 in Bhavnagar State in a middle-class family.[citation needed] He studied up to B.A classes but refused to take the degree from the foreign government.[citation needed]

Political careerEdit

He joined the national movement of non-co-operation in 1920. He founded Bhavanagar Praja Mandal in 1921 for carrying on the freedom movement in that state. He participated in the Civil Disobedience movement from 1930 to 1932. He also participated in Bardoli Satyagraha. He was sentenced for three years imprisonment in Quit India Movement of 1942. He spent total seven years in prison during British colony. On Mahatma Gandhi's suggestion, he accepted membership of the Congress Working Committee. When Jawaharlal Nehru became president of All India Congress Committee, he was elected its general secretary. He was twice elected, in 1949[citation needed] and was again elected in 1957 Indian general election to the 2nd Lok Sabha from Gohilwad (Bhavnagar) Constituency.[1]

He was the Chairman of Estimate committee of Parliament. He chaired the committee set up by Government of India in January 1957 to examine the working of the Community Development Programme and the National Extension Service and to suggest measures for their better working. The committee submitted its report in November 1957 and recommended the establishment of the scheme of 'democratic decentralisation' which finally came to be known as Panchayati Raj.[2][3]

He also remained President of Servants of the People Society (Lok Sevak Mandal), a social service organisation founded by Lala Lajpat Rai, in 1921.[4]

He succeeded Jivraj Narayan Mehta as the Chief Minister of Gujarat on 25 February 1963.


During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, on 19 September 1965, then serving chief minister Mehta flew in a Beechcraft commuter aircraft from Tata Chemicals, Mithapur to the Kutch border between India and Pakistan. The plane was piloted by Jahangir Engineer, a former Indian Air Force pilot. It was shot down by Pakistan Air Force pilot Qais Hussain, who assumed it to be a reconnaissance mission. Mehta was killed in the crash along with his wife, three members of his staff, a journalist and two crew members.[5][6]

In August 2011 Qais Hussain wrote to Jahangir Engineer's daughter apologizing for his mistake, stating that a "civilian plane was mistaken for a reconnaissance aircraft by Pakistani controllers, and he was ordered to shoot it down".[6][7]


The Department of Post, Government of India has issued a special postage stamp of face value INR 3.00 to commemorate his 100th birth anniversary on 17 February 2000.[8][9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Statistical Report on General Elections, 1957 to the Second Lok Sabha, (Vol. I)" (PDF). Election Commission of India. p. 65. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ Mathew, George (1995). Status of Panchayati Raj in the States of India, 1994. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-81-7022-553-9.
  3. ^ Misra, Suresh; Dhaka, Rajvir S. (1 January 2004). Grassroots Democracy in Action: A Study of Working of PRIs in Haryana. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-81-8069-107-2.
  4. ^ Grover, Verinder (1993). Political Thinkers of Modern India: Lala Lajpat Rai. Deep & Deep Publications. pp. 547–. ISBN 978-81-7100-426-3.
  5. ^ Laskar, Rezaul (10 August 2011). "Pak Pilot's Remorse for 1965 Shooting of Indian Plane". Outlook. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Pakistan pilot's 'remorse' for 1965 shooting down". BBC. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  7. ^ "After 46 yrs, the healing touch: Pak pilot says sorry for mistake". Indian Express. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  8. ^ Jain, Manik (2008). Phila India Guide Book. Philatelia. p. 166.
  9. ^ "Postage Stamps:: Postage Stamps,Stamp issue calendar 2014, Paper postage, Commemorative and definitive stamps, Service Postage Stamps, Philately Offices, Philatelic Bureaux and counters, Mint stamps (unused stamps)". Archived from the original on 5 May 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.