Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904 – 1966) | (Photo Credits: Getty Images)
New Delhi, October 2: Tributes pour in all from all corners today as the nation pays homage to India’s second Prime Minister, late Lal Bahadur Shastri, on his 115th birth anniversary. A Nehruvian Socialist and lifelong Congressman, Shastri continues to inspire India’s farmers and soldiers as he is the man behind the iconic slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”. On this day, it is recommended to revisit the facts related to the life and death of Shastri, as enlisted below.
– Shastri was born on October 2, 1904 in Ramnagar village of Varanasi region in the then United Province of Agra and Oudh, which is now known as Uttar Pradesh. At the age of one, Shastri along with his mother was shifted to his maternal house in Mughalsarai as his father had expired after suffering from a stroke. Lal Bahadur Shastri 115th Birth Anniversary: 10 Inspirational Quotes By One of The Most Humble Prime Ministers of India.
– Shastri, similar to many other pupils of the era, received a crucial portion of the elementary schooling from a maulvi – Budhan Mian. The Muslim cleric taught Shastri Urdu and Persian — the two languages used as official medium in India before the introduction of English as the compulsory language.
– Shastri later enrolled with the Harish Chandra High School in Varanasi to attain higher education. During this period, he studied the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Annie Besant. Gandhi moved him to quit the college being run by the colonial government and join the no-cooperation movement of 1921.
– Shastri’s involvement in the non-cooperation movement got him jailed for the first time under the colonial regime. He was, however, released shortly by the government as he was a minor.
– In 1925, Shastri joined the Servants of the People Society (Lok Sevak Mandal) — an organisation founded by martyred freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai. The group was dedicated towards the upliftment and betterment of the lives of Harijans or those who are socially and economically backward.
– In 1928, Shastri officially joined the Congress party. For the next 20 years, he was actively involved in the vehicle which played the primary role in securing independence from the foreign regime.
– In 1948, Shastri was appointed as the parliamentary secretary of Uttar Pradesh, his home state. In 1952, he was elected as a legislator from Soraon North cum Phulpur West seat, polling over 69 per cent of the total votes.
– In the same year, Shastri was elevated at the Centre, with the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru choosing him as the Minister of Railways in the first directly elected government formed in 1952.
– In 1961, Shastri was appointed by Nehru as the Union Home Minister — the post held by him for three years before being appointed as the External Affairs Minister in 1964 for a short duration.
– On June 9, 1964, shortly after the death of Nehru, Shastri took oath as the second Prime Minister of independent India. His stint lasted till January 11, 1966 and witnessed the epic India-Pakistan war of 1965. It was during this crucial military confrontation when Shastri boosted the nation with the clarion call of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’.
– Shastri died on January 11, 1966 in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent, where he signed a peace treaty with the then Pakistan President Ayub Khan. Cardiac arrest is stated as the official reason for his demise.
Conspiracy theorists, however, allege discrepancies in the information put on record related to the death of Shastri. The late leader’s wife Lalita Shastri, shortly after his death, alleged that he was poisoned to death in Tashkent. US journalist Gregory Douglas, who interviewed former CIA operative Robert Crowley over a period of 4 years, wrote in his book In Conservation With The Crow that Shastri along with Indian scientist Homi Bhabha was murdered by the American spy agency to deter the growing domination of India and Russia in the South Asian region. His allegation, based on a series of conversations with Crowley, received no official backing.