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On Lal Bahadur Shastri’s birth anniversary, a look at the political careers of his descendants

All three of Shastri's sons, and many of his grandchildren, have joined politics. However, only his eldest son, remained loyal to Congress throughout like him, with others shuttling between parties.

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New Delhi: Lal Bahadur Shastri, independent India’s second prime minister, who served betwen 1964 to 1966, was considered by many as an ardent socialist — the man behind the famous ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ slogan.

The  leader, who before becoming PM had held several key portfolios in the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet, drew criticism for failing to do much about India’s deteriorating economic situation at the time, but was lauded for taking a strong stance against Pakistan in the 1965 dispute over Kashmir.

After serving as prime minister for just 19 months, he died in Tashkent on 11 January 1966. On his 117th birth anniversary, Saturday, ThePrint looks at how his name has continued to remain relevant in Indian politics through his sons and grandsons.

Also read: Modi seems unassailable, opposition is targeting its own but UP 2022 can change 2024 script

Three sons, but only one forever loyal to Congress

Of the former PM’s three sons — Anil Shastri, Sunil Shastri and Hari Krishna Shastri — only one has stayed loyal to the Congress.

Though all ventured into politics, only the eldest, Hari Krishna, followed completely in his father’s footsteps by joining and remaining in the Congress for the entirety of his political career.

He representing Allahabad in the fourth Lok Sabha and Fatehpur in the seventh and eighth Lok Sabhas. He also briefly held the agriculture portfolio as a union minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet. He passed away in 1997.

Anil Shastri gained political currency in 1989 when he won the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on a Janata Dal ticket. He also served as minister of state for finance under the V.P. Singh-led National Front government, after which he joined the Congress. Currently, he holds the position of chairman of the Hindi Department in the All India Congress Committee.

Earlier this year, his statement about a Gandhi not leading the party made headlines. “If Rahul Gandhi does not want to be the president then Priyanka Gandhi should lead the party, as she has a charismatic personality and the party workers see an image of Indira Gandhi in her,” he had said, adding that if this doesn’t happen the party will “cease to exist”.

Sunil Shastri has frequently shuttled between the Congress and BJP in his 44-year long political career. He was first in the Congress where he became an MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur in 1980. He then switched to the BJP in 1998 where he served as the national general secretary and spokesperson for three years. In 2009, he returned to the Congress but by 2014, just months before Modi became prime minister, he was back in the BJP.

Also read: Congress names Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel as senior observer for UP assembly polls

From AAP to Congress to BJP,  journey of the Shastri grandsons

From the Aam Aadmi Party to the Congress and the BJP, several of the former prime minister’s grandsons have also joined various political parties.

Anil Shastri’s son, Adarsh Shastri most recently defected to the Congress from the AAP in January 2020, after being denied a ticket for the Delhi assembly election that year. Shastri accused Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal of selling tickets for the polls for Rs 10-20 crore. He had won from Dwaraka on an AAP ticket in the 2015 legislative assembly elections.

Adarsh Shastri had also courted controversy in 2018 when his name featured in a list of 20 MLAs who the Election Commission had recommended to be disqualified for “holding office of profit”.

Earlier this month, Adarsh Shastri attacked the AAP government’s education efforts, accusing them of failing “4.75 lakh students in Class X and XI to boost the pass percentage in the board exams”.

Vibhakar Shastri, son of Hari Krishna, is now political advisor to Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi. He had fought and lost from Fatehpur during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket.

On 29 September, he criticised Sidhu’s appointment as Punjab Congress chief. “The party should give a cooling off period of at least five years to those leaders who have come from other parties, so that they can work for the organisation and know the ideology. No person should be more than a particular party and ideology,” he had said.

Siddharth Nath Singh, son of the former prime minister’s daughter Suman Singh, is currently a cabinet minister in Yogi Adityantah’s government. Representing Allahabad West in the 2017 UP assembly polls, he won on a BJP ticket and currently holds several key positions in the party including national spokesperson, national secretary, state in-charge of Andhra Pradesh and co-in-charge of West Bengal.

In early September, he had accused Priyanka Gandhi and Samajwadi party’s Akhilesh Yadav of negating the Yogi government’s efforts when viral fever cases had begun to spike dangerously. “This is the time for ‘so-called’ responsible leaders like Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party and Priyanka Gandhi of Congress to show compassion for those suffering from viral fever instead of shedding crocodile tears on Twitter,” he said.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Float own party, bring down govt — after Cong exit, what will former CM Amarinder Singh do next?


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