02 August, 2021

A Long Shadow

Lal Bahadur Shastri’s wartime leadership united the entire country

A Long Shadow

After Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded the larger-than-life Nehru as prime minister, he was often regarded as a figure of fun for his diminutive stature. That changed the day he ordered Indian troops to cross the international border. Rawalpindi (where the Pakistan army HQ is located) had launched a ma­ssive attack in the Akh­noor-Jammu sec­­tor. To counter that, the Ind­ian army mounted a many-pronged att­ack from Amritsar, Ferozpur and Gurdaspur and, a few days later, from the Sialkot sector. Shastri told (then army chief) General Chaudhuri, “I want to reach Lahore before they enter Kashmir”.

This was the tallest decision by the ‘sho­rtest’ man. Nehru, a sti­c­kler for the rights and wrongs of world affairs, would have never cro­ssed the international border. Shastri became a hero and the country united under his leadership. During the 22-day war, Shastri used RSS cadre to regulate traffic in Delhi, as most res­ources were diverted tow­ards the war. This sent a wrong message to Muslims, who felt...

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