oNityanand Swami was the chief minister of the Indian state of Uttarakhand, named Uttaranchal during his administration. He was the first chief minister of the state, serving from November 9, 2000 to October 29, 2001.
Swami was born in Narnaul, Haryana, and spent almost all his life in Dehradun where his father served in Forest Research Institute. He entered the Freedom Struggle at an early age, under the umbrella of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and contributed in the local resistances at Dehradun. Swami, as he was popularly known among his friends was not only an intellectual but also an excellent debater and spokesman. It was no surprise therefore, when he was declared all round student of Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College, Dehradun in year 1949-52. In the 50’s and 60’s he was a worker of Bharatiya Jan Sangh and president of various trade unions, he preferred the non violent hunger strike Satyagraha in contrast to violent strikes of Bandh.
Lawyer by profession, Swami entered active politics under the Bharatiya Jan Sangh. He had switched to the Indian National Congress for a brief period of time and to the Bharatiya Janata Party since then. It is a record in itself that as many as 18 times he was put in prison by the establishment when he was just there for the cause of struggling fellow labourers. Hunger strike was the ultimate weapon in his armoury which he has successfully used many times.
It was year 1969 when swami was first elected as the member of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the Dehradun constituency that time the former chief minister of state, Kailash Nath Tripathi was impressed by Swami’s in-depth knowledge of the function of the legislative assembly and also never believed in patchwork and shortcut. In 1984, Climbing the ladder in Politics, he got elected into the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council from the largest (area-wise) graduate constituency of Garhwal and Kumaon. Swami represented the constituency of Garhwal and Kumaon for record 3 years. He became Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council of Uttar Pradesh in 1991 and was unanimously elected the Chairman of the same in 1992. Swami was the unanimous popular choice of the legislators and was elected the chairman of the up legislative council in 1992.
His behind-the-scenes hard work in the struggle for separate Uttaranchal state as a reality will probably not be realised in immediacy as the chairman of the council he doggedly pursued matter and policies to uplift the qualities in these fields through various umbrella NGOs. He was honoured with the “Pride of the Doon” Award from Doon Citizen Council, Dehradun, In recognition of distinguished contributions to the region. The soft spoken Swami was honoured with the Uttar Pradesh Ratna in 2000 for the dedicated public work a little-known facet of his multidimensional persona in his love to “Rashtrabhasha” Hindi. He was awarded the Sahitya Bharati by Hindi Prachar Samiti in 1994.
The sombre and solemn atmosphere of Uttaranchal was interrupted on November 9, 2000, the foundation day of the new state when Nityanand Swami took the oath as its first chief minister. He also seem to have infused his party members with a new strength of purpose he had the reputation of being a martinet politicians he probably is the right choice of the party who can nature Uttaranchal to become one of the smallest yet most vibrant states in India. Together, these landmarks have defined today’s Uttarakhand.
With the carving of Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand) in 2000, he was asked by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership to acquire the newly created office of Chief Minister. He served from November 9, 2000 to October 29, 2001 in the office and then resigned voluntarily in favour of Bhagat Singh Koshyari when asked by the BJP leadership.
He was married to Chandrakanta Swami and has four daughters. He is survived by his daughter Jyotsana Sharma who is a social activist and politician based in Dehradun.
He died at the age of 84, about 9:30 AM at the Combined Medical Institute (CMI), Dehradun on December 12, 2012.