Lal Bahadur Shastri was a leader who did great service for the nation as the prime minister. The one thing he’s most credited for is leading the country against Pakistan in the 1965 war. The Pakistanis took him for his short stature and polite way of talking, and assumed that was meek. But he proved to be completely the opposite.
He was immensely dedicated to the country, something for which he’s never given due credit. He kept the welfare of the nation above his and his family’s, something quite unlike many of our other prime minister’s. Here’s looking at some such instances –
1. Pakistani forces had launched an attack in the Chamb sector and had crossed Indian territory with 100 Patton tanks. The three service chiefs informed PM Shastri about this. At that moment, he was having dinner with his family. He asked for 10 minutes’ time and then went back to tell them to launch an air attack on Pakistan. His decision was a bold one as this was the first time the IAF would take part in a war after Independence. With the intention to save time, he didn’t even consult his cabinet ministers.
2. Once, PM Shastri made a visit to the Halwara airbase to motivate jawans and know about their well-being. He even went near the border to gauge the actual situation. This shows that he wasn’t an armchair prime minister who gave orders from New Delhi and left the soldiers to their condition.
3. During the Indo-Pak of 1965, he’d appealed to the nation to fast for a day, but not many know that he first asked his family to fast. Only when his children sustained the fast did he turn to the nation. The nation supported his appeal whole-heartedly and Monday fast became a regular feature throughout the war.
4. PM Shastri slept just 4-5 hours a day during the 1965 war and rest of the time he was focused on the war. He even made a map of the Indian sub-continent and used to mark places our forces had captured. This was his style of monitoring the war.
5. The salary of late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was sent to the government’s calamity fund as he refused to accept it. He had even refused to take any pension which was also sent to the government’s calamity fund.
6. PM Shastri visited Major Bhupinder Singh at Delhi’s Military Hospital who had been admitted there for injuries sustained in the 1965 war. When Shastri saw the Major, he said, “What is this, Major?” The army officer was so moved by this gesture that he began crying, and said in a choked voice that it was his misfortune that he was not in a position even to salute the Prime Minister.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was a gem of a person and a leader. Even though India had lost the 1962 Sino-Indian war under the lack-lustre and spineless leadership of Nehru, just three years later Shastri lifted the nation and backed the forces to deliver a resounding defeat on the Pakistanis. His dedication and love of the country will always be remembered.