gfiles magazine

December 9, 2014

The little colossus

prime ministers lal bahadur shastri

One of Lal Bahadur Shastri’s first major decisions as Prime Minister was to offer the third position in the Cabinet to Morarji Desai, who had been the main aspirant for the top job. Shastri must have known the result: Desai would refuse. There was no way a stubborn man like him would take a position lower than Gulzarilal Nanda, who had been just a parliamentary secretary in Bombay when Desai was not only a minister in the 1937 government but had been a minister for years since 1946, before becoming the chief minister. Shastri had succeeded in his manoeuvre to keep Desai out. As the little man had once said, “I am not as simple as I look.”

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