The party which has given some of the worst performing leaders like Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, the same congress party has given the nation a leader called Lal Bahadur Shastri who had set high standards for himself when it came to leading a public life. Lal Bahadur Shastri, unlike Nehru, Shastri had always put country before his own self and his family. There are numerous instances which show the amount of love, commitment and loyalty Lal Bahadur Shastri had for his motherland, India.
- Before requesting the nation to go on fast for a day, he had asked his family to do so.
During the Indo-Pak war 1965, Lal Bahadur Shastri had addressed the nation and appealed to the citizens of the country to fast for a day, but before requesting the nation to fast for a day, he had asked his family to do so, in order to see whether his family could pass the test. Only when his family successfully went passed the day fasting, he turned to the nation with his appeal and we all know following his appeal, Monday fast became a regular feature in India during that time. “Father asked our mother not to cook a particular meal and see if the children could bear to skip the meal and we passed the test” recalls, Anil Shastri, who was studying in first year of graduation during the war.
- He gave importance to time and was smart and confident while it came to taking decisions.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was having dinner with his family, when the three chiefs informed him of the Paksitani Soldiers attack on the chambal sector and that the enemy forces had crossed the Indian border with 100 Patton Tanks, Shastri, left the meal in between joined the chiefs to understand the gravity of situation and immediately ordered the chiefs to launch an air attack on the enemy forces. “We were having dinner, when chiefs of defense informed him about the attack. He asked for only 10 minutes and went back to tell them to launch air attack on Pakistan. It was the first time Indian Air Force would take part in war after Independence. In order to save precious time, he did not even consult his cabinet ministers and showed no signs of anxiety as he returned to his meal after the meeting” says Anil Shastri, stressing on the importance Shastri had given for time when it came to handling critical situations.
- He visited air base during war with Pakistan to motivate the forces.
Shastriji was clear about one thing in particular. He wanted the jawans to know that the prime minister of the country was with them in their fight for protecting the sovereignty of the nation, even though it meant that Shastriji had serious threat to his own life. The younger son of Ex-PM, Sunil Shastri says” I was only 15 years old then and had accompanied Babuji to Halwara airbase. At around 4 am, he woke me up and told me we are going to meet jawans to enquire about their well being. When we reached the border, my father went near the border to gauge the actual situation. At that time, someone from the Pakistani side identified him as the PM of India, after which senior Army officials including Lt. General Harbaksh Singh and Jawans surrounded him and escorted him to safe place. Such was the charisma of the ex-PM, which motivated members of armed force to fight bravely”.
- Shastriji genuinely cared for each and every individual
Major Bhupinder Singh had sustained serious injuries during the Indo-Pak war and hence was admitted to Delhi’s Military Hospital for treatment. When Shastri visited him to enquire about his health, Major Bhupinder Singh, cried like a baby. After looking at the condition of Major Singh, Shastri smiled at him and asked, “What is this, Major?” the officer was so moved by the kindness of ex-PM that he started crying, and choked while saying that it was his misfortune that he was not in a situation even to salute the Prime Minister.
- Even when the whole country was panicking, he would always remain calm and composed.
During the Indo-Pak war, bunkers were created at 10 Janpath, the then official residence of India’s PM, and when the atmosphere turned dangerous every time the siren blew, the household members panicked but Shastri used to react coolly and would take the family members and staffs to a safe place.
- He refused to take salary for his services as the Prime Minister of the country.
When people like Mountbatten received Rs. 64000 during 40’s which would roughly be equivalent to several crores in today’s time for returing home, people like Rajendra Prasad and Lal Bahadur Shastri refused to accept the monetary incentive for their services. While Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s First President refused to accept the pension, Lal Bahadur Shastri refused to accept to take any salary, which were eventually sent to the Government’s calamity fund.
In those times when leaders were turning the office of PM into a family business and taking decisions that would benefit their own family, Shastriji shined like a real man of honor and brought the lost credibility back to the country’s top most post. Even though Shastri has given his everything for the welfare of the people of the country it is truly sad that we Indians have buried legends like him in the old dusty files which will never be reopened ever again.