Thursday, January 18, 2018
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mahatama gandhi and lal bahadur

A new and welcome trend was noticed this year on Gandhi-Shastri Jayanti day. Several political parties paid tributes to the two great leaders.

This is as it should be. But in the past it was often seen that Gandhi, Shastri, Nehru had been reduced to just being leaders of the Congress party. If other parties did celebrate the occasion it probably did not receive coverage. But this time, apart from the Congress, all the wings of the Samajwadi Party led by MP, Kunwar Reoti Raman Singh paid glowing tributes to the two great leaders by celebrating the day as ‘Sadhbhavna Ekta Divas’. At a meeting organized at Subhas Crossing in Civil  Lines, they condemned the communal forces and pleaded for harmony.  It was  also a pleasant surprise to see the BJP (City wing) workers, led by Vice President Tehsin Ahmad also paying homage to the two leaders and garlanding their statues as well. Even senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was in the city on Wednesday, garlanded Shastriji’s statue at Medical crossing while flagging the Kisan Jagrukta Rally!

There should be some sort of all-party consensus on honouring the great leaders of different parties. That will reduce to quite an extent the unnecessary tension that is often seen when political parties show scant respect for leaders of the other parties. On such occasions we must recall the inspiring incidents from their lives. Their Allahabad visits could also be remembered. For instance, how many could be knowing that the Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital would not have been there had not Mahatma Gandhi made sincere efforts in this direction? He had given his word to the dying Kamala Nehru that he would fulfil her wish for a hospital for ailing women. Gandhiji came here twice for this purpose—once to lay the foundation stone of the Kamala Nehru Hospital and then again to perform its opening ceremony some years later. And when the Mahatma was just Mr Gandhi, he had come to Allahabad to present a paper at a function organized by the Economics Department of Allahabad university in 1916. Amaranatha Jha had possessed the manuscript of Gandhi’s speech. Where it is now I cannot say.
And about Shastri? He loved Allahabad. And his simplicity and honesty can be recalled from a newspaper headline when he became Home Minister in the UP Government. The headline said, ‘Home Minister without Home in Allahabad’. What is more, when during his absence from Allahabad, a colleague of his booked a municipal plot for him, Shastriji was quite worked up. He handed over the plot back to the municipality. It is such instances from the lives of great men which should be highlighted. Even otherwise Shastri’s was a life of simplicity unequalled by most of his other contemporaries, to say nothing of those born and brought up subsequently  in the money-spinning world of politics.

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