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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

Master Gurbanta Singh

Master Gurbanta Singh (4 August 1904- 5 February 1980) is known as a Dalit stalwart in Punjab politics. He was an Indian politician, educationist, and social reformer. He was a member of the Unionist Party and later the Indian National Congress. Master Gurbanta Singh was the tallest Dalit leader where even Dr. Ambedkar himself become small in front of his stature.

Master Gurbanta Singh was born in the Dhaliwal village, Jalandhar, British Punjab. He obtained his education from Jalandhar and became a school teacher of Sain Das A.S. Sr. Secondary School Jalandhar. His political career started when he became a village sarpanch. He joined the Ad-Dharm movement and declared himself Ad-Dharmi in 1931. He also joined the Unionists Party and fought elections unsuccessfully. He again fought elections from Jalandhar (Reserved Seat) and became successful. He was made the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana, Premier of British Punjab.

After independence, he joined the Indian National Congress. He fought elections in 1952 and 1957 but did not win. In 1962, he won from the Kartarpur Constituency and was chosen as a Cabinet Minister in the Cabinet of Sardar Partap Singh Kairon from 1956 to 1964. He became the Agricultural Minister of Punjab and played an important role in the establishment of Punjab Agricultural University and Bhakra Dam. Master Gurganta Singh was again elected unopposed in 1972 in Punjab Assembly Elections and joined the Ministry of Giani Zail Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab. He became a Member of the Punjab Assembly six times and slowly came to be known as the biggest Dalit leader of Punjab.

Master Gurbanta Singh Memorial Janta College at Kartarpur, Punjab was established by him which was later named after him. Master Gurbanta Singh Marg at Basti Baba Khel in Jalandhar is also named after him.

I was a schoolboy when I met him in the Duhra village. He was tall, healthy and slim with an impressive personality. He served the country honestly and religiously. He did not gather money but served the people and uplifted the Dalit. We should always remember such a progressive and wonderful man. May God bless Punjab with such wonderful leaders who could save the state from deterioration. Since 1980, the Punjabi economy is getting weaker day by day.

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