Uchharangrai Navalshankar Dhebar (1905-1977) was an Indian Independence activist who later served as the Chief Minister of Saurashtra State from 1948 to 1954 and the President of the Indian National Congress from 1955 to 1959. In 1962, he was elected to the third Lok Sabha from Rajkot.
He was born on 21 September 1905 in the hamlet of Gangajala, eleven miles from Jamnagar in Gujarat to Navalshankar. After his university education, he started a legal practice and became renowned lawyer. Under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi he left his legal career in 1936 and joined Indian independence movement.
He served as the President of Rajkot Mill Kamdar Mandal in 1936. He was a Secretary of Kathiawar Political Conference in 1937-38. He also served as the President of Rajkot Praja Mandal in 1938-39.
In 1941, Dhebar was selected by Gandhi to offer individual Satyagraha at Viramgam. He was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment. In 1942 he was again arrested during the Quit India Movement. On the attainment of independence, Dhebar played a prominent role in the integration of the princely states of Kathiawad in the Indian Union and the formation of United State of Kathiawar, later renamed to Saurashtra State. He was appointed as Chief Minister of Saurashtra State in 1948 and served until 1954. During his administration several reform[which?] were introduced in Saurashtra for the uplift of villages.
In 1955 he was elected the President of the Indian National Congress and served till 1959. His first act as the President was to assemble the top leaders of the Congress for a week in a conference to decide how the Congress could best serve the nation. He served as the Chairman of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission in 1960-61. In 1962 he was elected to the third Lok Sabha from Rajkot. Dhebar was connected with several institutions rendering social and educational services. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1973. Rajkot Airport is named after him.
He died in 1977.
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