Lal Bahadur Shastri

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Lal Bahadur Shastri
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Lal Bahadur Shastri

Date of Birth: October 2, 1904
Date of Death: January 11, 1966
Place of Birth: Moghalsarai, U.P
Prime Minister of India
Tenure Order: 2nd Prime Minister
Political party: Indian National Congress
Took Office: June 9, 1964
Left Office: January 11, 1966
Predecessor: Gulzarilal Nanda
Successor: Gulzarilal Nanda

Lal Bahadur Shastri (लालबहादुर शास्त्री) (October 2, 1904 - January 11, 1966) was the second Prime Minister of independent India and a significant figure in the struggle for independence.

Lal Bahadur was born in Moghalsarai, also spelt as Mughalsarai. He abandoned his studies to take part in the non-cooperation movement of Mohandas Gandhi in 1921. He was given the title Shastri at Kashi Vidya Peetha in 1926. He spent almost nine years in jail in total, mostly after the start of the Satyagraha movement in 1940, he was imprisoned until 1946.

Following India's independence, he was Minister of Police in the ministry of Govind Vallabh Pant. In 1951, he was appointed General Secretary of the Lok Sabha before re-gaining a ministerial post as Railways Minister. He resigned as minister following a rail disaster near Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu. He returned to the Cabinet following the General Elections, first as Minister for Transport, in 1961, he became Home Minister.

Jawaharlal Nehru died in office on May 27, 1964 and left something of a vacuum. The major figures of the Congress Party were unable to find enough support which allowed the lesser regarded Shastri to come through as the compromise candidate, becoming Prime Minister on June 9.

The chief problem was Pakistan, fighting along the Rann of Kutch was ended under a UN ceasefire for the conflict to re-emerge in Jammu and Kashmir. The second Indo-Pakistan war began and the Indian forces reached Lahore before a ceasefire was agreed.

In January 1966 Shastri and Muhammad Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent (former USSR), organised by Kosygin. Shastri signed a treaty with Pakistan on January 10, the Tashkent Declaration, but the next day he was dead of a heart attack. He is the only Indian Prime Minister to have died in office overseas, and indeed probably one of the few heads of government in history to do so. All his lifetime, he was known for his honesty and humbleness.

He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna and a memorial was built for him in Delhi. The slogan Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan (Hindi for "Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer") is attributed to Shastri.

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