Pant, Govind Ballabh

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PANT, GOVIND BALLABH (1887–1961), Indian politician, home minister (1954–1960). Born at Khunt, near Almora, United Provinces, in the Himalayas on 30 August 1887, Govind Ballabh Pant became India's "greatest parliamentarian," serving for ten years as chief minister of the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh) and for six years as home minister of the Indian government. He grew up in Almora and was known as a pahari or, as Jawaharlal Nehru put it, "a son of the mountains." His father was a naib tahsildar (deputy collector of revenue). Pant was educated at home and was sent to school at the age of ten. In 1905 he enrolled in Muir Central College in Allahabad and between 1907 and 1909 studied law. A serious student of politics, he kept a notebook and diary of contemporary events and modeled himself on the Congress moderate Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866–1915). Pant began a law practice in Almora but moved his practice to Kashipur, which, although a political backwater, became the center of his legal and political life. In 1914 he established Prem Sabha, a literary and social organization, and became the secretary of the Uday Raj Hindu School. In 1916 he founded the Kumaun Parishad to voice the demands of the Kumaun people. In 1916 he attended the renowned Congress session at Lucknow. He fought his first election to the United Provinces Legislative Council in 1920 but lost by thirty-three votes.

In 1922 he gave up his legal practice to follow Mahatma Gandhi. In 1923 Pant was elected to the United Provinces Legislative Council on the Swarajist ticket and headed the party in the assembly. He was reelected in 1926 but resigned in 1930. Between 1929 and 1934 he served time in prison for his noncooperation activities, shared a cell with Nehru, and they became close friends. In 1934 he was elected unopposed on the Congress ticket to the Legislative Assembly of India. In 1937 and again in 1946 he was elected to the United Provinces Legislative Assembly, serving as chief minister between 1937 and 1939. Between 1946 and 1950 he represented Uttar Pradesh in the Constituent Assembly of India. From 1946 to 1954 he returned as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh before finally accepting Nehru's offer to serve in the central government. He was the home minister until 1960. He had a prodigious capacity for work, and as a first-class administrator he was a master for details. Govind B. Pant died on 7 March 1961.

Roger D. Long

See alsoGandhi, Mahatma M. K. ; Nehru, Jawaharlal


Chalapathi Rau, M. Govind Ballabh Pant: His Life and Times. New Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1981.

Nanda, B. R., ed. Selected Works of Govind Ballabh Pant. 18 vols. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994–2002.