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Biography: Govind Vallab Pant

Mr. Pant personifies the temper of the time and has received and retained the plaudits of the National.

It is a delight to watch this champion heckler entering the House with the quick, firm step.

A mighty figure, his face is the picture of discreet conviviality. When he rises to speak, words compact of lion experienced, full of wisdom, and memorable for their point forth from my lips.

He has contributed to the political phrase book expression which will long survive their author.

The Hon'ble Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant was born in September 1887 in a village in the Almora district. His father was Government official in the revenue department. He passed his childhood under the care and guidance of his maternal grandfather, the late Rai Bahadur Pandit Badri Datt Joshi, who was one of the most celebrated figures in the history on modern Kumaon.

Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant was educated at Almora and passed his Intermediate examination in 1905. Then he joined the Allahabad University and had a brilliant academic career. He graduated in 1907 and took his law degree in 1909. In the law examination he stood first in the University and secured the Lumsden Gold Medal.

When he was at the University the Bengal partition movement had fired the imagination of the youth of India and the Swadeshi movement was in full swing. Panditji was a staunch nationalist even in college days and he used to make public speeches advocating the use of swadeshi and the fostering of national ideas and sentiments. He was a fluent speaker and skillful debator in the University debating union.

Among his contemporaries there are many illustrious names Dr.Kailash Nath Katju Acharya Narendra Deva, Babu Shiva Prasad Gupta and Pandit Sundarlal are friends of his students. Mr. C.Y.Chintamani had then begun his journalistic career in Allahabad and many were the occasions on which he had a tussle with young Pant in the course of political debates. This laid the foundation of a life-long friendship between the two.

He gave early indications of marked ability, eloquence and debating power which promised a distinguished career in public life for him.

He began to practice law in 1909 at Nainital. Within a short time he not only made a name in the profession but came to occupy a prominent position in the public life of Kumaun. In 1916 he along with his colleagues Pandit Harigovind Pant MLA and Pandit Badridatt Pande M.L.A started the Kumanu Parishad. This institution was devoted to the local problems of Kumaun. The beggar system was the main plank Forest grievances and coolie utar were the main grounds of agitation. Thanks to their persistent and vigorous agitation the Government was forced to put a stop to the forced labour system prevailing in Kumaun from time immemorial.

In the Montford Reform Scheme Kumaun was excluded from the operation of the new reforms. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant appeared before the Southborough Committee and succeeded in getting Kamaun removed from the schedule of backward areas.

His connection with the Indian National Congress began form is student days. In 1905 he attended the sessions of the Indian National Congress at Benares. After 1916 he has been regularly a member of the All-India Congress Committee.

In 1923 when the Swarajya Party fought the elections he was the chief lieutenant of the late Pandit Motilal Nehru. He was returned to the U.P Legislative Council from Nainital and was elected leader of the Congress Party in the Council and held that position with great distinction until the beginning of 1930 when the Indian National Congress decided to boycott the Legislatures.

In the Anti-Simon Commission demonstration he and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru suffered physical injury by the baton charge made by the police. During the Civil Disobedience movement he was twice imprisoned. In 1934 he was returned to the Central Legislative Assembly and was elected Deputy Leader of the Congress Party in the Assembly. He was also the General Secretary of the All India Parliamentary Board and a member of the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress.

In 1937 he was elected to the U.P Legislative Assembly and was elected Leader of the Congress Party. When the Congress decided to accept office he became the Premier of the portfolio of Home Affairs, Finance and Forest.

When the success of his election to the U.P Assembly was announced, a colleague of his in the Central Assembly remarked “Now that he will remain in U.P, Mr. Emerson will have to cut his coat according to Pant!”

This prophesy has almost come true.

Source: Haripura Congress Souvenir, 1938


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