Bhagwat Dayal Sharma (1918–1993), popularly known as Panditji, was the first Chief Minister of the Indian state of Haryana and later Governor of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh from 30 April 1980 to 14 May 1984.
He was born in Beri, a town in the Jhajjar district of Haryana on 26 January 1917. Bansi Lal, Bhajan Lal and many other noted politicians learned politics under his guidance.
Sharma married Savitri Devi and they had six children; three sons and three daughters. He was educated at Col. Brown Cambridge School in Dehra Dun and St, Stephen's College. His eldest son Rajesh Sharma became Sports Minister of Haryana and Deputy Chairman of the state's planning board. After his wife Savitri's death, Panditji built "Savitri Nikunj", in her memory, an exotic garden with indigenous and rare plants and trees at Raj Bhawan in Bhopal.
Independence movement and political career
Participated in the freedom struggle from 1941–46
Awarded jail for 1 year in 1941
Awarded jail for 3.5 years in 1942
Member of Indian labourers delegation to ILO (Geneva) in 1957 and 1958
All-India Trade Union Congress (Punjab HP, J & K) Secretary and President in 1959-61
Member of Punjab Legislative Assembly and Minister of State for Labour and Cooperatives from 1962–66
Sharma became Chief Minister of Haryana on 10 March 1967 then resigned to be replaced by Rao Birender Singh on 24 March 1967.
Rajya Sabha member from 1968–74
Appointed Governor of Odisha in 1977, during his time in the state, he became patron of many social and cultural institutions. To develop tourism in Odisha, he suggested that the summer Raj Bhavan at Puri should be converted to a high class hotel for international tourists with facilities for golf, swimming and tennis as well as a large hall for holding conferences. The Indian Tourist Development Corporation (ITDC) was subsequently asked to take up the venture. Sharma was also actively involved in the administrative committee of the Hindu Jagannath temple in Puri.
He subsequently transferred to Madhya Pradesh since the Odisha climate did not suit his health.
During his career, Sharma travelled to Switzerland, the UK, the USSR, Germany, USA, and a number of other European countries
Sharma died on 22 February 1993 because of gradual declining health and old age.Huge numbers of people from all over world attended his funeral. His cremationtook place at Beri (the village, he was born at), Jhajjar, Haryana. A tomb place has been built at the site of his cremation in Beri.