L.B Shastri did not hail from any aristocratic or rich family. He belonged to the class of people without pedigree. Rather he had a humble origin. He rose from the ranks. He got enrolled himself as a humble worker of the Congress Party and participated actively in the freedom struggle.
His selfless service to the cause of the country enabled him to climb the ladder of popularity. In the post-independence period, he served on the U.P. and central government as a minister. Finally, he came to head the central government in 1964.
Lal Bahadur Shastri had great respect for moral and spiritual values. He always kept the national interests above his personal interests. Rather he had no personal interests at all. He led a life of simplicity. He was a true Gandhian. No temptation could lure him away from his chosen path.
He did not put on the mask of secularism and socialism as was done by Pt. Nehru nor was he ambitious like the latter. He did not induct any of his sons in the party or the government on any responsible post. In fact, he was opposed to the concept of dynastic rule. He believed in fair-play and justice.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Railway Minister when a terrible railway accident took place in Ambala. Shastriji owned the moral responsibility for the accident and resigned from the ministry. He set the example for others to follow. But these days morality has taken a nose-dive.
Since the death of Shastriji hundreds of railway, accidents have taken place but no minister has ever resigned on moral grounds. Scandal after scandal has come to limelight, involving even Prime Ministers like Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narasimha Rao, but neither of them had resigned on moral ground. Indian polity is certainly lacking in conscience-keepers.
Lal Bahadur Shastri did not like a life of pomp and show. His household duties were performed by his wife who was equally simple. He sent his sons not to academies but to the schools where the sons of the poor got the education.
He had a good rapport with the people. He listened to their demands and tried to redress their genuine grievances. He was never arrogant because he did not allow power to get into his head.
Shastriji was a practical man. He did not believe in political gimmicks He practised what he preached. He worked to make India self-reliant strong. When the western countries refused to supply foodgrains to India, Shastriji gave a call to the countrymen to observe fast on every Monday to overcome the food crisis. Shastriji himself observe fast on Mondays.
Shastriji wanted to create a sense of self-respect and self-discipline among the people. When Pakistan attacked India in 1965, he took the fight into the enemy’s territory and managed to inflict a crushing defeat on the enemy.
He respected the opposition and got their co-operation in tackling any problem. India India was unfortunate because the icy hands of death snatched this gem away from us in 1966.