Some Lesser Known Facts About Lal Bahadur Shastri
- Did Lal Bahadur Shastri smoke?: Not Known
- Did Lal Bahadur Shastri drink alcohol?: Not Known
- He shares his birthday with Mahatma Gandhi; fondly called the father of the nation in India.
- He was two years old when his father passed away by Bubonic Plague. He was raised, along with his two sisters, by his mother at his maternal grandfather, Hazari Lal’s place.
- Since his childhood, he had inculcated the attributes of morals, honesty, simplicity, and sheer ethics.
- He was against the prevailing caste system, so, he decided to drop his surname “Shrivastava.”
- In 1925, after he completed his graduation from Kashi Vidyapeeth in Varanasi, he got the title “Shastri” meaning “Scholar person.”
- Young Shastri was inspired by the work and patriotism of Swami Vivekananda, Gandhiji, Annie Besant, etc.
- J.B Kripalani, along with one of his friends V.N. Sharma, had formed an informal school centred around “nationalist education” to educate the young activists. Shastri was inspired from their institution and also joined them.
- He went to jail for the first time at the age of seventeen; for his active participation in Non-Corporation Moment.
- In 1928, he got married to Lalita Devi, the youngest daughter of Ganesh Prasad. Since he was against the Dowry-system, he refused to accept the Dowry that his father-in-law gave to him. On being consistently forced by his father-in-law, he accepted only five yards of khadi (a type of cotton, usually handspun) cloth as dowry.
- He also joined Servants of The People’s Society (founded by Lala Lajpat Rai), as a life member and worked for the betterment of the Harijans under Gandhi’s direction at Muzaffarpur. Later, he became the President of the Society.
- In 1928, he became an active member of Congress and he got behind the bars for two and a half years for being a supporter of Salt March in 1930.
- In 1940, he was jailed for one year for offering individual Satyagraha support to the independence movement.
- On 8 August 1942, Gandhi issued speech on Quit India Movement; challenging the British Government to leave India, Shastri who had just come out of prison, gave instructions to Independence Activists from Nehruji’s home. He was again arrested and imprisoned till 1946.
- Soon after India’s independence, Shastri was elected as Parliamentary Secretary in his home state, Uttar Pradesh.
- Being the Minister of Police and Transport (Uttar Pradesh), he was the first to allow women to become conductors. He was also the first one to introduce water cannons/jets, instead of Lathis, for crowd control.
- He was chosen as the General Secretary of All-India Congress Committee in 1951 when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister. As General Secretary, he was handed all the responsibilities related to the elections.
- He played a vital role in the consecutive successes of the Congress Party in the Indian General Elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962.
- Shastri was made Prime Minister on 9 June 1964, after the demise of Jawaharlal Nehru on 27 May 1964. He was the second Prime Minister of India.
- He took the oath of office on 11 June 1964 and stated: “There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the crossroads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us, there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a secular mixed-economy democracy at home with freedom and prosperity, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with select nations.”
- He gave the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” during the war; when the country was also facing food shortage problems.
- He was the first person to be awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously.
- His commendable leadership was admired and extolled all across the world. He lived his life with the sheer simplicity and truthfulness and was a great source of motivation and inspiration to all the Indians.
- Shastri died in Tashkent, reportedly due to a fatal heart attack, at 02:00 on the day after approving the Tashkent Declaration, but people allege some conspiracy behind the death. He was the first Prime Minister of India to die overseas.
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