Bhajan Lal, one of Haryana's leading political personalities who twice ruled the state for full five-year terms, died of heart attack on Friday. He was 80. A Congressman for a large part of his career, he fell out with the high command in 2007 and floated the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), and was its patron and MP.
"Bhajan Lal suffered a major heart attack with brain haemorrhage. He was brought to the hospital around 2.30pm and passed away at 5.15pm," said Dr Ravinder Gupta, who attended on him. His body was taken to his Hisar home. His last rites will be performed on June 4.
Bhajan's rise to the top of India's politics was meteoric considering his humble origins as a small shopkeeper selling chunari and desi ghee in Adampur town of Hisar. Born in a modest family in village Kodawali in Pakistan, Bhajan's parents moved to Mohamadpur Rohi village of Fatehabad district some time in the 1930s.
Rameshwar Das, his close associate, told TOI how Bhajan took to politics by contesting panchayat and block samiti polls in the early 1960s. Within eight years, he rose in stature when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi landed up in Adampur in 1968 and lent him support. He won and there was no looking back for him after this.
Bhajan became Haryana CM in the most dramatic circumstances. He walked out with 37 MLA to join the Congress from Janata Party in 1980. His second term began in 1991 till 1996. He was also Union agriculture and environment minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government.
Bhajan dominated Haryana politics, representing the non-Jats. With Congress sidelining him for Bhupinder Singh Hooda as CM in the last election, Bhajan floated HJC in 2007. He fought the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Hisar and defeated two prominent politicians, Sampat Singh and Jai Prakash, in a high-profile battle.