Lone surviving Constituent Assembly member dead (Lead)

February 1st, 2009 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Rohtak/Chandigarh, Feb 1 (IANS) The last surviving member of the Constituent Assembly of India, Ranbir Singh, died at his residence in Rohtak town of Haryana Sunday after a nearly two-month long illeness. He was 94. Ranbir Singh, the father of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, will be cremated with full state honours at Rohtak Monday.

The state government declared a three-day mourning in his honour. All offices and educational institutions will also remain closed in the state Monday. The state assembly budget session, which was to commence Monday, will be held after the state mourning is over, a government spokesman said.

A Gandhian, Ranbir Singh was known for his participation in India’s freedom struggle and later as a parliamentarian and administrator.

Chief Minister Hooda and other members of the family were with him during his last moments. Hooda was camping in Rohtak for the last few days to be by the side of his ailing father.

Born in a peasant’s family on Nov 26, 1914, at Sanghi, a small village in Rohtak district of Haryana, Ranbir Singh got his initial education at his village school and later at the Gurukul Bhainswal Kalan near Gohana (Sonepat) run by the great Arya Samaj activist and social reformer, Bhagat Phool Singh.

Ranbir Singh joined the Gandhian army in 1930s to contribute towards India’s freedom struggle. He graduated from Delhi’s Ramjas College in 1937.

He was first arrested in 1941 for participating in a Satyagraha movement. He was put behind the bars several times during India’s freedom struggle.

In all, he spent three and a half years in rigorous imprisonment and was under house arrest for two years. He went to different jails in Rohtak, Ambala, Hisar, Ferozepur, Lahore (Borstal), Lahore (Central), Multan and Sialkot.

He remained closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi, during the latter’s visits to Rohtak and nearby districts of Punjab.

The Indian National Congress sent him to the Constituent Assembly in July 1947, largely owing to his contribution to the freedom movement. He worked actively in the framing of the Indian Constitution and voiced the concerns of workers and peasants.

He was also a member of the Provisional Parliament and served it from 1950-52.

He contested the first general election in 1952 from the Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency and won the poll with a huge margin.

In the second general elections in 1957, he again contested from his old constituency of Rohtak and retained it convincingly.

In 1962, he was elected to the Punjab assembly. He was inducted into the council of ministers and held the portfolios of power and irrigation. He made substantial contribution in the making of the Bhakra Dam.

On the formation of Haryana as a new state Nov 1, 1966, he shifted to his political base to Haryana and became a minister. He won the Kiloi assembly seat, at present represented by his son Hooda, in a by-election in 1968.

He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1972 and was behind the introduction of the pension for former MPs.

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