Shastri, Lal Bahadur

Shastri, Lal Bahadur

▪ prime minister of India
born Oct. 2, 1904, Mughalsarai, India
died Jan. 11, 1966, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, U.S.S.R.
 Indian statesman, prime minister of India (1964–66) after Jawaharlal Nehru.

      A member of Mahatma Gandhi's Non-cooperation Movement against British government in India, he was imprisoned for a short time (1921). Upon release he studied in the Kāśī Vidyāpīṭha, a nationalist university, where he graduated with the title of shastri (“learned in the scriptures”). He then returned to politics as a follower of Gandhi, was imprisoned several times, and attained influential positions in the Congress Party of the state of the United Provinces, now Uttar Pradesh.

      Shastri was elected to the legislature of the United Provinces in 1937 and 1946. After Indian independence, Shastri gained experience as minister for home affairs and transport in Uttar Pradesh. He was elected to the central Indian legislature in 1952 and became union minister for railways and transport. He gained a reputation as a skillful mediator after his appointment to the influential post of minister for home affairs in 1961. Three years later, on Jawaharlal Nehru's illness, he was appointed minister without portfolio, and after Nehru's death he became prime minister in June 1964.

      Shastri was criticized for failing to deal effectively with India's economic problems, but he won great popularity for his firmness on the outbreak of hostilities with neighbouring Pakistan (1965) over the disputed province of Jammu and Kashmir. He died of a heart attack after signing a “no-war” agreement with President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and was succeeded as prime minister by Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter.

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Universalium. 2010.

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