The death anniversary of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri falls on 11 January. This year marks the 56th death anniversary of the esteemed leader.
Shastri, who played an integral role in the struggle for independence, was the prime Minister from June 1964 to January 1966. He left an indelible mark on Indian politics with his humble, soft-spoken demeanour and ability to connect with the common people.
On his 56th death anniversary, here are some facts about Lal Bahadur Shastri:
― Shastri was born on 2 October, 1904, in Uttar Pradesh’s Mughalsarai. His father died when he was only a year and a half old, leading Shastri and his siblings to be raised by their mother.
― Nanhe, or ‘little one’ as Shastri was called by his family, later moved to Varanasi to continue his studies.
― He was only 16 years of age when he heeded Mahatma Gandhi’s call and joined the Non-Cooperation Movement.
― Shastri later joined Varanasi’s Kashi Vidya Peeth, and came under the influence of several nationalists and intellectuals. 'Shastri’ was the bachelor’s degree conferred upon him by the educational institute, but has remained in the minds of the public as part of his name.
― He played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle, even getting jailed by the British for a total of seven years during the independence movement.
― He was appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, when the Congress government was formed in 1946.
― In 1951, Shastri moved to New Delhi, where he held several posts in the Cabinet, including Minister for Railways, Minister for Transport and Communications and Minister for Commerce and Industry.
― During his tenure as the Railway Minister, a train accident led to the loss of many lives. Shastri resigned from his post following the accident, as he felt responsible for it.
― After Nehru's death in 1964, Shastri became the second Prime Minister of India. He promoted the Green Revolution and the White Revolution to increase the food and dairy production capacity of the country.
― During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, he gave the slogan 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' to boost the morale of the troops and the farmers amid the food scarcity plaguing the country. Shastri also stopped drawing his salary during that time, according to NDTV.
― He died in Tashkent on 11 January, 1966, where he had gone to sign a declaration of ceasefire with Pakistani President M Ayub Khan and end the 1965 war.