Anna Hazare resembles our forgotten PM Lal Bahadur Shastri

By: Nairita Das
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Anna Hazare is no longer a new face or new name for any Indians. The 74-year-old Gandhian crusader stirred up the whole nation to come on the road protesting against the government. Many started considering Anna as a crusader who has initiated the "second freedom-struggle" for the country demanding anti-corruption Lokpal Bill. But Anna resembles to another freedom fighter whom the Indians hardly remember. He is none other than but our beloved though forgotten Prime Minister - Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Anna resembles to Shastri ji in everything - from simple lifestyle to their beliefs in non-violence, their faith on Mahatma Gandhi to their unique struggles - India Against Corruption and Jai Jawan Jai Kisan (hail farmers and soldiers!) movement respectively.

Honesty - the signature of the two legends:

Shastri ji, who was born to a poor school teacher and lost his father in his early age, spent his life without any corruption and treachery. Shastri ji reportedly once went with his friends to see a fair on the other bank of the Ganges in Varanasi. On the way back he had no money for the boat fare. Instead of borrowing from his friends, he jumped into the river and swam to the other bank. Shastri ji was seen maintaining such simplicity through his entire life. [Read: Who is Lal Bahadur Shastri?]

Anna Hazare, who once had decided to end his life by committing suicide, dedicated 15 years of his life to the armed services as a truck driver. After retiring from the Indian Army, the crusader decided to go back to his native-Ralegaon Siddhi, a drought prone village in Maharashtra. Witnessing the villagers lives full of misery, he initiated the denizens to conserve rainwater, making Ralegah Siddhi a self sustained model village in Ahmednagar District. [Read: Who is Anna Hazare?]

Similarities in dressing styles of both crusaders:

Shastri ji used to wear a Gandhi topi and dhoti while Anna Hazare also seen in the same attire. Citing Anna's popularity during his second India Against Corruption movement, the Gandhi topi has become the new fashion trend among the youths and children in this modern age of iPad, laptop and so many high-tech luxuries. [Read: Sudden craze among Indians for Gandhi topi]

The two unique protests which stirred the aam-admi of the nation:

The creator of the slogan "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan" ("Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer"), Shastri emphasised the need to boost India's food production during the war with Pakistan in 1965.

After the declaration of ceasefire on 23 Sep 23, 1965, Shastri ji and Pakistani President, Muhammad Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent and signed the Tashkent Declaration on Jan 10, 1966.

Similarly, Anna has enlightened the Indians about the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill who has been left unnoticed for more than four decades. The Parliament made eight unsuccessful attempts to pass a Lokpal Bill since 1968, all in different versions each time. In Jun 2011, Anna held his first fast-unto-death and forced the government to form a joint committee to work on the final draft of the bill.

Citing the differences with the government, Anna had resumed his hunger-strike amid several constraints and finally won the battle partially as the government agreed to pass the resolution on all demands tabled by Anna and his team.

Faith in Gandhi and his ideologies:

Both Shastri Ji and Anna have been found to have kept faith in the non-violence process of the Nation's father - Mahatma Gandhi. During Gandhi's non-cooperation movement in 1921, Shastri ji joined processions in defiance of the prohibitory order. He was arrested but let off as he was a minor. He finally dedicated his life to country's freedom fighting movement in 1930 during Mahatma Gandhi's Salt Satyagraha. He was imprisoned for two and a half years.

While, Anna, despite its 12-day long fast at Ramlila Maidan, succeeded to control his nation-wide followers in maintaining peace while protesting against the government. People from foreign countries too joined the path shown by the Gandhian.

Despite having these similarities, Anna and Shastri ji believed to have faced two different reactions from the people of the country. Anna, with the help of modern media and technology, has reached to the mass nation-wide. People started worshiping Anna Hazare as many started demanding to build a temple on Anna Hazare. Reports also emerged that Anna's 12-day-long fast have been choosen as the theme for the Ganesh Pooja in Mumbai.

However, Shastri, despite of his strong contribution in India's freedom struggle and progress, Lal Bahadur Shastri hardly received such attention what other freedom fighters or politicians grabbed in India.

While celebrating Gandhi Jayanti on Oct 2, most of the people in the country do not remember his name as he has been overshadowed by Gandhi's fame and popularity.

Once CNN-IBN editor in-chief, Rajdeep Sardesai had mentioned in his Tweet, "sad in a way that Lal Bahadur Shastri shares his bday with Gandhi, tough to live in shadow of the mahatma."

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