The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Lal Bahadur Joining Freedom Struggle and Becoming Cabinet Minister
Joining Freedom Struggle
True democracy or the swaraj of the masses can never come through untruthful and violent means.
Lal Bahadur Shastri participated in all the mass movements that characterized India’s freedom struggle.
Lal Bahadur Shastri had the good fortune of watching Jawaharlal Nehru unfurling the flag of independence on the banks of Ravi in the year 1929.
His stay at Allahabad deepened his contacts with Jawaharlal Nehru. On December 31, 1929 he joined Nehru and his followers who demanded unconditional independence. In the year 1930, at Gandhiji’s call, Shastriji participated in the Salt Satyagraha and was arrested and sentenced for two and a half years. He utilised his period of detention in as best a manner as possible and had gone through the biographies of great leaders as also the political philosophies of Kant, Hegal, Laski, Marx, Lenin, etc. He also translated the autobiography of Madam Curie in Hindi.
At Allahabad, he was in the same prison with Jawaharlal Nehru but they were kept in separate barracks. They couldn’t meet, but Nehru was very kind about sending books to him.
In 1930, he became secretary of the Allahabad District Congress Committee and organised the No Rent Campaign in Allahabad district under the guidance of Nehru. In 1935, he was elevated to the position of the general secretary to the UP Congress Committee, then dominated by the Congress heavyweight Pandit GB Pant in the 1937 elections, he got elected to the UP Assembly. In 1940, he participated in the Individual Satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi.
Individual Satyagraha was launched by the Congress in 1940 in order to demand freedom just after the Second World War in 1939. He got arrested for one year during that Individual Satyagraha as well. He again got a call from Gandhi Ji on August 8, 1942 for Quit India Movement. He took part very actively and got arrested for long. He met with Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant and got good comments for his hard work throughout the 1946 provincial elections.
Lal Bahadur Shastri went to jail in 1932, 1941 and 1942, altogether 7 terms in prison totalling nine years. In 1937 and 1946, Shastri was elected to the Legislature of the United Provinces.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was re-elected to the U.P. Assembly and was named secretary to the UP Parliamentary Board. Alongwith CB Gupta, Shastri was appointed as GB Pant’s Parliamentary secretary. It was largely to Pant that Shastri owed his entry into the upper echelons of the Congress.
GB Pant had picked up Shastri because he was likeable, hardworking, devoted and trustworthy. He was also non-controversial. Pant relied on him to assess the political impact of measures the state government proposed to take.
Becoming Cabinet Minister
It is essential in a democracy that the public services should be sensitive to the feelings and sentiments of individual citizens.
Finally India got freedom on 15 August 1947 when Lal Bahadur Shastri was 43. His mentor Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India and GB Pant the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Lal Bahadur Shastri was appointed the parliamentary secretary to GB Pant.
Later, he was given the charge of public security in UP and became the minister in charge of police and transport. As the police minister, he asked police that instead of lathis, they should use water-hose to disperse a demonstrating mob. He was the first transport minister who employed women conductors.
Following the Tandon-Nehru controversy of 1950-51, Nehru became the Congress president and he called Shastri to Delhi to organise the Congress campaign in India’s first general elections. He became the Congress general secretary.
Throughout the elections, he stayed at Teen Murti House, Nehru’s residence, and used the period for cultivating Nehru in order to realise his political ambitions.
The landslide Congress victory produced his reward in the form of election to the Rajya Sabha and his appointment as the Union minister for Transport and Railways in 1952.
The railways in the country had been badly disrupted after the division of the country. Lal Bahadur Strove hard to set right and regulate the railways. There were four classes—first, second, intermediate and third in the railways then. First-class compartments offered extreme luxury and were considered heavenly. But the discomfort of passengers in the third class compartments was beyond description. They did not have even minimum comforts.
Shastri made efforts to reduce the vast disparity between the first and the third classes. His idea was to have only two classes of compartments in course of time—the first and the second. It was he who provided more facilities to travellers in third class compartments that exists till date.
As the Union Minister of Railways, he took several beneficial measures. For the first time third class compartments saw electric fans installed, and provision for supplying thalimeals to the passengers travelling in the third class was made. Similarly dining car facilities, Class II air conditioning and adequate passenger-safety arrangements were the other innovations made.