LACHHMAN SINGH GILL (1917-1969), Akali politician and chief minister of the Punjab for a brief term, was born at Jagraon in Ludhiana district. He started life in 1937 as a government contractor. He entered politics via the Shiromani Akali Dal of which he became a member during the Punjabi Suba morcha or agitation. The agitation was started in the 1950`s in support of a separate state for the Punjabi speaking people to be carved out of the then existing Punjab. In 1960 began his membership of the executive committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

In 1966, he was elected a member of the Sikh Educational Committee for the management of Sikh colleges at Qadiari (Gurdaspur) and at Bariga (Jalandhar). In 1962, he was nominated a member of the Sri Nankana Sahib Education Trust, Ludhiana. In 1961, he became general secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. The renewal of the Punjabi Suba agitation in 1959-61 ended in a split in the Shiromani Akali Dal. Lachhman Singh Gill sided with the group led by Sam Patch Singh.

In the legislative elections held in 1962 he was elected a member of the Punjab Assembly from Jagraon constituency. The Punjab went through a major realignment of its boundaries in 1966 when Haryana and the Punjab were split into two political entities. Lachhman Singh Gill was elected to the legislative assembly (this time from Dharamkot constituency in Firozpur district) in February 1967. Although the Akali Dal won only 26 seats against 48 for the Congress in a house of 104, it made a joint front of all non Congress MLA`s and a few independents and formed a ministry headed by Sardar Gurnam Singh.

Lachhman Singh Gill was sworn in as minister for education and revenue on 8 March 1967. However, in April he joined Harcharan Singh Hudiara to form a separate group. By November this group had a strength of 19 members led by Lachhman Singh. On 22 November 1967 Lachhman Singh Gill pledged his support to the Congress party. The United Front ministry put in its resignation the same day.The Congress party, however, instead of forming a ministry of their own offered support to Lachhman Singh Gill, who was sworn in as Chief Minister on 25 November 1967.

Lachhman Singh Gill`s first action as chief minister was to declare Punjabi as the official language up to the secretariat level. The language bill was passed in the assembly on 19 December and it received the governor`s assent on 29 December 1967. According to this bill, Punjabi was to come into force by 14 January 1968 up to district level and by 13 April up to secretariat level. He had already announced on 13 December 1967, the grant of U.G.C. (University Grants Commission) grades to university teachers. His other historic decision was to connect all villages to market towns with metalled roads.

On 20 August 1968 the Congress party withdrew its support leading to the fall of Lachhman Singh Gill`s ministry. The Punjab was placed under the President`s rule. In the midterm elections which took place in February 1969, Sardar Gurnam Singh bounced back into power, heading a United Front ministry. Lachhman Singh Gill died of a severe heart attack at Chandigarh on 26 April 1969.

References :

1. Dilgeer, Harjinder Singh, Shiromam Akali Dal. Chandigarh, 1980
2. Ashok, Shamsher Singh, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee da Panjah Sala Itihas. Amritsar,1982
3. Wallace, Paul and Surendra Chopra, eds.. Political Dynamics of Punjab. Amritsar, 1981