He belonged to a poor Brahmin family from UP. He struggled throughout his life right from childhood and never thought of power or wealth till his end. And yet, the same (power and respect) flew to him due to his honesty and dedication. There were two separate tragic train accidents (one in Tamilnadu and other in AndhraPradesh) during his tenure as railway minister in 1956. It was a great shock to him. Though there was no way he was connected with it, he submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
After the death of Govind Vallabh Pont, he became Home minister in 1961. At that time he had no personal house of his own. “The Homeless Minister” as called by people, had only a rented house in Allahabad at that time.
During the struggle for freedom movements, he was sent to prison several times. When he was in, there were two unfortunate events, which proved his truthfulness. First, at that time, one of his daughters was seriously ill. The prison authority agreed to let him go home for a short time. They asked him to give in writing that he should not indulge in the freedom movement during that period. He denied that saying it was against his self-respect. As the prison officials knew about his honesty, they set him free for a fortnight. Unfortunately, his daughter died before his arrival. After the funeral rites he returned to prison before the expiry of leave. In another tragic incident, his son was laid up with influenza. He was permitted unconditionally to go home for a week only. His son’s condition remained as such and his leave was complete. Shastriji bade farewell and left home for prison. Those were the examples reflecting how Shastriji was true to his words throughout his life.
The days of Gandhiji, Nehruji and Shastriji were gone. We learnt about them from our parents, teachers and books only.
Now the present days belong to the leaders like Arvind Kejriwal. He is the first Chief Minister to refuse security on the ground that there should be only provisional security for leaders. He surprised everybody not shifting to the official residence of the CM. On the wake of the issue, the question is raised whether he would be able to live up to his own moral standards for long. Because the West Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee, too began on an austerity note but, over a period of time, she was a victim of pressure and accepted the office.
Ministers in India may not be having fabulous salaries, but the perks they enjoy in terms of accommodation, travel, staffs and others are so huge that even the billionaires of the world cannot match.
We have witnessed how Shastriji was one in a billion because of his honesty. So we cannot rule out why Kejriwal would not stick to his pledge to be so.
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