President: 1905 - 1977
Uchharangrai Navalshankar Dhebar, a freedom fighter and later the Chief Minister of Saurashtra state, was born on 21 September 1905 in Gangajala in Gujarat. After his university education, he started a legal practice and became a renowned lawyer. Under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi he left his legal career in 1936 to join the Indian independence movement.
After leading and participating in several demonstrations, he was appointed the President of Rajkot Mill Kamdar Mandal in 1936 and served as the Secretary of Kathiawar Political Conference in 1937-38. He also elected 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 for his role in 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 reforms were introduced in Saurashtra for the upliftment of villages.
In 1955 he was elected the President of the Indian National Congress and served till 1959. After his appointment, he held a week long conference with the top Congress leaders to decide how the party 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 awardedthe Padma Vibhushan in 1973.
He died in 1977.