My Letter to Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri
During my job at Allahabad I toured extensively to various States of India. The list of events and memoirs is too long to be recalled in detail, but I am citing the most unforgettable one. While on a business tour to Orissa in 1953, I was travelling on a train from Jagannath Puri to Behrampur Ganjam. It was a day’s journey and a ticket checker/collector entered the compartment to check the passenger’s fare tickets. I was surprised that most of the passengers did not have the ticket and were paying the fare to the Ticket Collector who pocketed the money. This left an indelible impression on me and I had a sleepless night. During that same night with a half burnt candle, I wrote a post card narrating the incident to the then Railway Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri.
After a few days I returned from the tour and found a letter in response to my post card asking me to meet the Minister on his Allahabad visit. I promptly wrote back another Post Card asking how will I come to know the schedule of the Minister’s visit to Allahabad. One fine morning a Railway Police Officer arrived at my house and asked me to accompany him to meet Mantri Ji. When I entered into the room of Shastri Ji, he smiled and asked me to sit by his side. He introduced me to all the persons sitting there. Then he took out my first post card and read out the prevailing state of affairs narrated in my post card. I was really touched and inspired by Shastri Ji’s simplicity, sincerity and quick action. Such were our leaders in those days — what a difference now!
Whenever Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Union Railway Minister, visited Allahabad, he used to stay at his rented house in a colony known Muthiganj. Just adjacent to that house was an open ground where R.S.S. Shakha was regularly held in the morning. I was then residing in the same area. One morning as a routine I along with some swyamsevaks was marching towards that place to hold a Shakha. We all were in Sangh uniform with lathis (sticks). To our surprise we saw a tent being fixed in that ground. A security guard/a police personnel, riding on a horse stopped us to hold the R.S.S. Shakha at that place since Mantriji (Shastriji) was on his official visit and staying inside the house. I argued with the Police officer that at that particular place, R.S.S. Shakha was being held for the last many years and suggested him to remove/shift the tent to another open space nearby but he did not listen. Looking at the commotion Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri came out. I explained to Shastriji that the place/Sangasthan was regarded by us like a Mandir. Shastriji said to the Police officer, “These boys are the swyamsevaks of R.S.S. Do not stop them – let them hold the Shakha at the same place.” Immediately the tent was removed and shifted to another place and Shakha was held as usual on time after hoisting the Flag (Bhagwadhwaj) and later dispersed after prayer. Talking face-to-face with Shastriji was a memorable experience for me.
I recall that Shri Madan Lal Khurana (former Chief Minister of Delhi), then a student of higher secondary school, was also then living in Muthiganj area and attending that Shakha. During those days at Allahabad Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi (former Union Minister), then a student of Allahabad University, was also our colleague attending Shakha held at Bharadwaj Ashram near Allahabad University.
Please refer pages 36-37 of the book