Wednesday, July 24, 2013



" Where  has this breed of leaders gone ? "

 (    10th January ,1966......Indian  Prime Minister  Lal Bahadur Shastri  and Pakistan's president  General Ayub Khan after signing of the historic Tashkent  Peace Treaty in Russia .Shastri Ji died in Tashkent, the day after signing the Tashkent Declaration, reportedly due to a heart attack..A Monument and a street is named after him in the city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan.)

I quote noted Journalist  Kuldeep Nayyar " Gen. Ayub was genuinely grieved by Shastri ’Jis death. He came to Shastri  Ji’s room at 4 am and said to me, “here is a man of peace who gave his life for amity between India and Pakistan.” Later, Ayub told the Pakistani journalists that Shastri was one person with whom he had hit it off well; “Pakistan and India might have solved their differences had he lived,”

In his first broadcast as Prime Minister, on 11 June 1964, Shastri said..

"There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations."

Urdu poet Ali Sardar Jafri was so much impressed with this peace initiative in the subcontinent that he wrote a poem Tashkent  ki shaam.. I add some lines to these  photographs.

"Manaao jashn e mohabbat ke khoon ki boo na rahi
Baras ke khul gaye barood ke siyaah badal,
Bujhi bujhi si hai jangon ki aakhiri bijlee
Mehak rahi hai gulaabon se Tashkent ki shaam..
Yeh surkh jaam Hai khubaan e Tashkent ke naam
Yeh sabz jam hai lahore ke haseenon ka
Safed jaam hai Delhi ke dilbaron ke liye
Dhulaa hai jis mein mohabbat ke aaftaab ka Rang..
Kissi ki zulf na ab shaam e gham mein bikharegi
Jawaan khauf ki vaadi se ab na guzareingay
Bhari na jaayegi ab khaak o khoon se maang kabhi
Milegi maa ko na marg e pissar ki khush khabari
Khilengay phool bahut sarhad e tamanaa par
Khabar na hogi yeh nargis hai kis ke aankhon ki
Yeh gul hai kis-ki jabeen kis ka lub hai yeh laala
Yeh shaakh kis ke jawaan baazuvon ki angadaai
Khudaa karay ki yeh shabanam yuun hi baras-tee rahe
Zameen hamesha lahoo ke liye taras-tee rahe ….

And now some thing more on Shastri Ji 's character .


(Lal bahadur Shastri clearing some important files as Prime Minister while Lalita Ji ( his wife) is sitting nearby and reading a book)

“Dekho Lalita .. Yeh Munshi Prem Chand ka Sahitya hai aur yeh Kabir ke dohay hain . Jo Pustak tumhe pasand sa jaaye pad lo . Jahaan kahin bhi kuchh poochhana chaaho mein huun na ”

“ Look Lalita . This is Munshi Prem Chand ‘s literature and this is Kabir ‘s poetry. You can read them . Should you feel any difficulty , I am here to come to your help.”

Shatri Ji was a very  simple man. He would clear important files even at his residence and quite often in the company of his wife Lalita Ji. He had bought her books of Prem Chand and poetry of Kabir and introduced Lalita Ji to the world of literature.

Kuldip Nayar, Shastri media advisor recalls that, during the Quit India Movement, his daughter was ill and he was released on parole from jail. However, he could not save her life because doctors had prescribed costly drugs. Later on in 1963, on the day when he was dropped from the cabinet, he was sitting in his home in the dark, without a light. When asked about the reason, he said as he no longer is a minister, all expenses will have to be paid by himself and that as a MP and minister he didn't earn enough to save for the rainy day. 

( Shastri Ji at Hazrat Bal Dargaah Srinagar January 1964. ) 

Once Shastri  Ji was sent to Kashmir by Nehru  to help resolve the  theft of the holy relic from  the Hazaratbal shrine. Pandit Ji  asked him whether he had enough woolens for the trip. "Are you aware Kashmir must be having snowfall at this time?" asked Nehru.
Shastri Ji showed him his only jacket he was wearing and Nehru immediately gave his own mink overcoat. Shastri Ji was short in stature so he told Nehru the coat was quite long. But Nehru said woolen overcoats were always longer. That no one would know it was a borrowed one. On his return from Kashmir Shastri Ji went to him to return the overcoat, Nehru asked him to keep it but he firmly declined.

When Shastri Ji left or Tashkent on January 3, 1966 for his meeting with Pakistan President Gen Ayub Khan, it was very cold and he was only carrying his usual khadi woollen coat, the book says.
Kosygin then Soviet Union counterpart realized that the coat Shastri wore was not warm enough to ward off the snowy winter winds of central Asia and wanted to present him a Russian overcoat but was not sure how to do so, it says.
"Finally at a function, he presented a Russian coat as a gift to the Prime Minister hoping that he would wear it in Tashkent. Next morning, Kosygin noticed that Shastriji was still wearing the khadi coat which he had brought from Delhi.
Hesitantly, he asked the Prime Minister whether he liked the overcoat which he gave to him," the authors say.
"Shastriji replied in the affirmative and said, 'It is really warm and very comfortable for me. However, I have lent it to one of my staff members who was not carrying a good woolen coat to wear in this severe winter. I will surely use your gift during my future trips to cold countries'," they wrote. Kosygin narrated this incident during his welcome address at a cultural programme organised in honour of Shastri and Khan.
He remarked, "We are Communists but Prime Minister Shastri is a super Communist."

Although Shastri had been a cabinet minister for many years,  he was poor when he died. All he owned at the end was a Fiat  car, which he had bought for rupees 12000/- after raising loan from Punjab National Bank.The loan was unadjusted/  outstanding  on the day of his death . He never owned a house or flat anywhere .

(Avtar Mota)

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