Babuji was a Gandhian freedom fighter in the Indian independence movement, lawyer, social worker and Indian statesman who also served as Excise & Taxation and PWD Minister in Joint Punjab as well as Finance Minister, Deputy Chairman Planning Board and Leader of the Opposition in Haryana. He was imprisoned several times including during Individual Civil Disobedience Movement, Quit India Movement and the Post Independence Emergency. He was often referred to as “Gandhi of Haryana” by his colleagues and coworkers.
Babuji was born on August 20, 1915 in a small village called Sikanderpur Majra in the city of Gohana in District Sonepat in a middle class family. His father Lala Murari Lal was a small business owner and his mother Dhankaur was a housewife. He was a top student throughout his educational career. He topped his village school (which is now named after him), 10th Grade (Gohana) and F.Sc (Rohtak) in Haryana. He received his bachelors degree in 1935 from S.D. College Lahore (now in Pakistan) after which he enrolled as a law student at Punjab University. In 1936, he won Jaishi Ram Gold Medal for topping the first examination of Law.
After passing law in 1937, babuji started his practice as an advocate in Gohana. Immediately thereafter, he joined Indian Freedom Movement on the call of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1939, he was seriously injured and even assumed dead at village Asaudha in Rohtak when hundreds of volunteers of freedom movement were attacked by the followers of Zamindara League who were armed with local metallic weapons including bhalas, barchhas and gandasas. He participated in the Individual Civil Disobedience Movement in 1941 and was arrested on 6 March 1941 from his native village Sikenderpur Majra and sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment under the then defense of (British) India Rules.
In 1942, he participated in the Quit India Movement & was arrested on 11 August 1942 from district court in Karnal. He was detained in the Old Central Jail, Multan (now in Pakistan) for ~1 year. After his release, he started practice as an advocate at Karnal but continued active participation in the freedom movement. He was elected General Secretary of District Congress Working Assembly which had been declared illegal by the British Government in those times.
He edited a weekly newspaper ‘Balidaan’ during 1948-52 while he led old tenant’s movement in Karnal. This agitation succeeded and Punjab Government had to issue instructions to restore the lands to those old tenants who had been uprooted earlier. Before being inducted in Cairon ministry, Babuji was engaged in Bhoodan Movement of Vinoba Bhave in entire Panjab and donated one sixth of his income as “sampatti daan” for several years.
Babuji took active part in the movement launched by Sh. Jayaprakash Narayan during the year 1973-75. He was the convener of Karnal District’s Sampoorna Kranti Abhiyaan. After the proclamation of emergency in June 1975, he was arrested immediately and was detained for more than 19 months in multiple far-off jails of Haryana.
After independence, he was first elected General Secretary and later President of the District Indian National Congress Committee Karnal. He was also General Secretary of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Fund Committee and the Gandhi National Memorial Fund Committee in 1948-49.
In the year 1952, he was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Samalkha. In 1956, he was included in the Cabinet of Partap Singh Kairon State Government as Excise & Taxation and Public Works Department (PWD) Minister.
In 1957 he was elected Member of Indian Parliament from Kaithal Parliamentary Constituency. Legend goes that he spent only Rs. 4000/- on his election campaign. As MP, he soon came in the good books of Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and was made member of several important committees appointed by the Union Government such as Direct Taxes Advisory Committee, Small Scale Industries Board and Cooperative Farming Board etc. He was also convener of Finance Standing Committee along with Sh. Morarji Desai, who was Finance Minister of India at the time. After the formation of Panchayati Raj Committees in Rajasthan & Andhra Pardesh, Babuji was made one of the member of five member committee constituted by Nehruji, to look after the affairs of Panchyati Raj Committees in these States. This committee submitted its report to the Prime Minister after visiting Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujrat.
During 1965-67, Babuji actively championed and directed the campaign for creation of a separate Haryana State. He was the General Secretary of All Party Haryana Action Committee which was presided by Ch. Devi Lal. After the creation of Haryana in 1966, he was elected to the state assembly from Gharaunda on Congress Party ticket. Soon after, he quit the Indian National Congress party because of his disillusionment and as a protest against Bhagwat Dayal Sharma who was chosen by the party as the first Chief Minister of Haryana despite Sharma’s severe opposition to the idea of formation of Haryana. Later, when Congress lost majority vote, Jain joined Vishal Haryana Party and the cabinet of Rao Birender Singh as Finance & Excise and Taxation Minister.
After his release from jail during [the Emergency], he was elected to the Haryana Assembly on Janata Party ticket from Samalkha in June 1977 and served as an astute Finance Minister in the cabinet of Ch. Devi Lal starting in December 1978. After his re-election in the beginning of 1980, Babuji was elected as Leader of Opposition in Haryana Assembly and continued in this capacity till May 1982.
Babuji was also the Vice President of Haryana Pardesh Lok Dal. In 1985-87, he played a major role in the Nyayay Yudh Movement launched by Ch. Devi Lal against clause 7 & 9 of the Rajiv-Longowal Punjab Accord. He was a member of the executive committee of Haryana Sangharsh Samiti and was imprisoned several times during that agitation. After the formation of the Govt. of Ch. Devi Lal, Babuji’s service to Haryana was recognized and he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Board, Haryana. He was also appointed chairman of many important committees including high powered committee in generating moral education in the educational institutions of the state, Chairman of the Jail Reforms Committee, and Agroha Development Board.
He resigned from the post of Deputy Chairman Planning Board in July 1989 on account of his difference of opinion with the then Chief Minister, Ch. Devi Lal on various issues including Sh. Om Prakash Chautala’s interference and his role in Meham constituency of Rohtak district in Haryana against Mr. Dangi. After his resignation, Babuji participated actively in the fight against Mr. Chautala.
He considered establishment of libraries as the most important factors necessary to transform the education system. In 1991, he established a library and a reading room in his native village, Sikanderpur Majra in Gohana (Sonepat). This library is regarded as one of the best libraries in rural Haryana. The residents of this village celebrate the birthday of Babuji as ‘Library Day’ every year.