Chaudhary Charan Singh (23 December 1902 – 29 May 1987) served as the 5th Prime Minister of India between 28 July 1979 and 14 January 1980. Historians and people alike frequently refer to him as the ‘champion of India’s peasants.'
Charan Singh was born on 23 December 1902 in a rural peasant Jat family of village Noorpur, District Hapur (Erstwhile District Meerut), Uttar Pradesh (Erstwhile United Provinces of Agra and Oudh). Charan Singh entered politics as part of the Independence Movement motivated by Mohandas Gandhi. He was active from 1931 in the Ghaziabad District Arya Samaj as well as the Meerut District Indian National Congress for which he was jailed twice by the British. Before independence, as a member of Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces elected in 1937, he took a deep interest in the laws that were detrimental to the village economy and he slowly built his ideological and practical stand against the exploitation of tillers of the land by landlords.
During 1977 Lok Sabha Elections, the fragmented opposition united a few months before the elections under the Janata Party banner, for which Chaudhary Charan Singh had been struggling almost single-handedly since 1974. He became Prime Minister in the year 1979. However, he resigned after just 24 weeks in office when Indira Gandhi’s Congress Party withdrew support to the government. Charan Singh said he resigned because he was not ready to be blackmailed into withdrawing Indira Gandhi’s emergency-related court cases. Fresh elections were held six months later. Charan Singh continued to lead the Lok Dal in opposition until his death in 1987.
Since his death, many who knew Singh have ensured his life and work are remembered positively. These perceptions enforce the notion that he was of a “higher category of leaders” in the areas of “intellect, personal integrity, and . . . coherence of his economic and social thought.” His association with causes dear to farming communities in India caused his memorial in New Delhi to be named Kisan Ghat (in Hindi, Kisan is the word for farmer). His birthday on 23 December is celebrated as Kisan Diwas in India. A commemorative postage stamp was issued by the government of India on the third death anniversary (29 May 1990) of Charan Singh.
The Amausi Airport in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh was renamed Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport after him, and the University of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, India, was also named Chaudhary Charan Singh University in his honour.