Tribute to a towering statesman

Ravi Rohmetra
Lala-ji was a friend, a guide and a social worker and was always counted amongst the great personalities of Jammu. His ambition always remained constant – to serve the people and their families and help in their upliftment towards a better life.
The feeling of helping and supporting the masses, especially the underprivileged was so deeply ingrained in his heart and mind that he often went through great obstacles and pains to secure the best for his people. He did this as he believed that service to humanity is the service to God. This is the reason that people still remember him fondly today and his name is always taken with great love, respect, and honour.
Lala Shiv Charan Gupta was born to loving parents Lala Mansukh Gupta and Durga Devi on March 2, 1925 at Udhampur. His childhood and teenage years were shaped by the movement for national freedom and it was instrumental in shaping his ideologies and vision in the coming years. He immersed himself in various capacities in social and political circles. He was the president of Beopar Mandal Udhampur, Chief Organiser of Social Sudhar Sabha, President Ram Leela Club, General Secretary Cow Protection Samiti, Zonal Secretary and Member of Central Working Committee of Praja Parishad and a Member of Central Social Welfare Board. He was even sent to jail twice under the Sheikh regime during the Praja Parishad Agitation. Lala-ji was elected to the state assembly for the first time in 1962 on the mandate of Praja Parishad. Subsequently, he was re-elected MLA in 1967 and 1977 on the mandate of Jana Sangh and in the year 1996 on the mandate of BJP and was a Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly. He served a long and glorious career in the state politics of Jammu and Kashmir. He had the rare distinction of working with five different Chief Ministers during his legislative career right from Ghulam Mohd. Bakshi to Dr Farooq Abdullah. Despite being on the opposite spectrum of political ideology of these leaders, his steadfast commitment to his values and principles and fearless advocation of Nationalism earned him great respect and honour from them.
He was the founding member of Praja Parishad, and after its merger with the Jan Sangh, the founding member of BJP in 1980. Till the end of his life, he remained active in BJP. He remained National executive member of Jansangh, BJP for more than four decades. During Praja Parishad Agitation of 1952-53 he fought against the tyranny of the then National Conference (NC) rule and was a regular target of the NC Govt. His organising capacity was so fearful for the government that even when remaining underground, he was ordered to be shot at sight. His fearlessness evoked strong reaction from the tyrannical government but even the shoot-at-sight order and danger to his life could not deter him from pursuing his nationalist cause of completing the full integration of J&K with the rest of the country.
Lala Shiv Charan Gupta is remembered for his countless development works in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State and particularly in the Udhampur district. Lala-ji’s indomitable spirit, unimpeachable integrity, fearless work remained the hallmark of his political career. His journey from Praja Parishad to BJP was extremely challenging. Even at the height of the Congress domination in the country and state politics at the time, he remained stuck to his values and principles and remained closely aligned with the ideology of the newly formed but relatively unknown Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s Jan Sangh. His hard work, dedication and strong ideological convictions endeared him to people and inspired them to join Jan Sangh and BJP. He fought fearlessly for the state and the society at every chance. Lala-ji was instrumental in taking BJP to new heights in the state for which he will forever be commemorated.
Lala-ji stood as an epitome of simplicity and dedication and served the people of the state for a long time in various capacities and always worked for the less fortunate and underprivileged sections of the society. Lala-ji was a man of high stature yet remained humble and a friend to everyone. He went on to become one of the most enduring icons of the state and dedicated his entire life in the service of the people.
Lala Shiv Charan Gupta was a leader of the masses, his political acumen and down to earth approach will contine to inspire generations and motivate them to serve the people with a sense of commitment. Vetran leader, a politician par excellence Lala Shiv Charan Gupta will always be remembered for his qualities of head and heart. Lala ji had created a niche for himself as he literally remained at the beck and call of his people especially at the time of need. This reflected his humane fact of service without self, especially as he kept himself available to the people particularly the under- privileged Lala ji was an epitome of simplicity whose role in socio-economic development remained guiding force for the younger generation of policiticians with singular moto of serving the people.