Lal Bahadur Shastri
Born: 2nd October 1904
Died: 11th January 1966 ( aged 61)
Tashkent, Uzbek SSR
Political Party: Indian National Congress
Spouse(s): Lalita Devi
Awards: Bharath Ratna (posthumously)
Early Life and Marriage
Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in the year 1904 on 2nd October to Sharada Prasad Shrivastava a School teacher (later on a clerk in the revenue office at Allahabad) and Ramdulari Devi the daughter of a Schools headmaster and English Teacher at a railway School in Mughalsarai
Shastri’s Father passed away in the year 1906 due to a bubonic plague. After this he and his sisters were raised at his Maternal Grandfathers house. He stayed there until he was 10 and moved on to Varanasi to complete his higher education. A Kayastha (one of the highest Hindu Casts) by birth, he gave up Shrivastava and too up Shastri as his surname after the degree he got from Kashi Vidyapeeth. He did this because he felt strongly against the Cast system and did not wish to follow it.
When Lal Bahadur Shastri was around six years old, an incident occurred which influenced the rest of his life. One day as he was returning from his school with a few friends, the lot entered an orchard on the way. His friends climbed onto the mango tree to get some mangoes and he stood below the tree to catch the mangoes. The gardener found him there and started beating him up. Shastri pleaded with the gardener to let him go as he was an orphan and taking pity on him, the gardener let him go. However the gardener told him “as you are an orphan, it is most important for you that you have to learn much better manners.” This left a deep impact on him and he decided to live a better life in the future.
In the year 1928, he married Lalita Devi of Mirzapur who was the daughter of Ganesh Prasad. He refused to accept any dowry but accepted a chakara and a few yards of Khadi as a marriage gift.
Early Political Career
Ever since a young age, Lal Bahadur Shastri held a strong interest in India’s struggle for freedom and was strongly impressed by Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings. When Shastri was 16, Mahathma Gandhi called for a Non Cooperation Movement and he left his studies to join in the movement. He then joined the Congress Party as a volunteer and participated in many anti-government demonstrations. During this period he was arrested and sent to jail, however he was released soon as he was still a minor. Over the years he spent a total of 7 years in jail.
After getting his degree from Kashi Vidyapeeth, he joined “Servants of the People Society” as a life member and worked for the welfare of the Harijans or the Dalit community under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. He would later on become the president of the party.
In the year 1930 Lal Bahadur Shastri participated in the Salt satyagraha and in the year 1937 he acted as the Organizing Secretary of the Parliamentary Board in UP.
Political Career Timeline
1937: Elected to the UP Legislative Assembly.
1947: He became the Minister of Police and transport. He introduced the concept of using “water-jets” to disperse crowds instead of using lathi or sticks.
1951: He was made the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee while Jawaharlal Nehru acted as the Prime Minister.
1952: Lal Bahadur Shastri contested in the UP Vidhansabha and won with over 69% votes, however he was call to the centre as a minister by Jawaharlal Nehru.
1964: He was made the Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru passed away.
Lal Bahadur Shastri continued to be the Prime Minister of India until he passed away in the year 1966.
Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death was declared to be because of a Heart attack he suffered while he was in Tashkent, Uzbek SSR after signing a pact with Pakistan.
However many people allege conspiracy behind his death.
He was believed to be fit and healthy by his doctor and did not have any previous signs of any heart trouble. This lead people to believe that he was poisoned.
Thus many factors pointed to the fact that there was some foul play involved in Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death however, there is still no conformation as to any of the allegations about his death.