A magazine published by RSS in Gujarat has hailed late prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri — an unassuming personality — as a “foundation stone” and unsung “nationalist” who stayed away from felicitations and honours. He is the latest Congress leader after Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to be lauded by the saffron group.
The latest edition of Sankalan Shreni, a magazine published by RSS media cell in Gujarat Vishwa Samvad Kendra, carries a chapter from the life of India’s second prime minister. The chapter from the issue dated February 21 describes a conversation between Shastri and his unnamed friend, who asked him the reason for his modesty and aversion for celebratory appreciation.
In the article titled “Foundation Stone”, Shastri is referred to as a “deshbhakt”, without giving away his to the readers. However, a cut-out of Shastri accompanies the article.
The chapter, written in Gujarati, begins with a friend posing a question to Shastri, “I have an urge to ask you a question for a very long time.” To this, Shastri first invites the friend, who is supposed to have travelled a long distance to meet him, to freshen up and have a meal. Later, Shastri answers the friend’s query on his disinterest in ceremonious appraisals.
The chapter says that the “deshbhakt” leader then looked at his friend and after much thought said, “When I first joined Congress, I came in contact with Lala Lajpat Rai, who taught me many great lessons. One day he told me ‘Look brother, when we embark on a path to serve the nation, it’s long and difficult. If we had thought about personal interest our families, we would have never embarked on this path… you must have seen Taj Mahal on many occasions… Two types of stones are used to build Taj Mahal. One is the costly white marble, which you can see on the outer parts. Taj Mahal has earned repute for its artistic beauty. But, does anyone notice the stones on which Taj Mahal stands? These are the second type of stones, which are used to build the foundation. Almost everyone talks about the beautiful white marble used outside, but no one cares about the normal stone used in foundation. But, infact it’s because of the stones in its foundation that Taj Mahal has been able to stand strong for all these years, and will continue to stand strong in the future. So, we should be like normal stones in the foundation of India’s independence.’ This is why I conceal myself as the stone in the foundation.”
Revealing the name of the leader in the end, the chapter says, “This nation serving leader was India’s beloved prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.”
Shastri was born in Ramnagar in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi. Recently, Modi too had visited Shastri’s paternal home in Varanasi.