The nation celebrated Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but few remembered that it was also the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Though some Bollywood celebrities may have tweeted birthday wishes for both Mahatma Gandhi and Shastri, his family feels that the present government did not make an effort to commemorate the birth anniversary of the successor of Jawahar Lal Nehru and the India's second prime minister.

Born on October 2, 1904, in Mughalsarai, Thursday was Shahstri's 110th birth anniversary. He passed away on January 11, 1966 in Tashkent, a day after signing a peace agreement with Pakistan after the 1965 war between India and Pakistan.

Huge advertisements

“There are double-page advertisements celebrating the birth anniversary of yesteryear leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi," said Shashti's son, Anil Shastri, who is pained by the National Democratic Alliance’s apathy towards his father. "I did not see any for my father, who was undoubtedly a great leader of his time. Should the present government not have paid homage and respect to him?”

While Mahatma Gandhi managed to feature in three full-page advertisements with Modi and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in The Times of India's Delhi edition, Shastri only featured in one quarter of a page, an advertisement by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In the Hindustan Times, while Shastri’s birthday wishes were limited to a half-page, Gandhi managed to feature in seven pages, with both central and state governments wishing him on his birth anniversary.

This was despite the fact that Narendra Modi had mentioned Lal Bahadur Shastri’s contribution to India on several occasions during his yearlong campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, Anil Shashtri said.

For instance, Modi mentioned Shastri at his Hunkaar rally on October 27, 2013. “The current Congress leadership is lacking foresight and are corrupt, they no longer have visionary leaders like Sardar Patel and Lal Bahadur Shastri,” Modi has said. He also used Shastri’s famous slogan, Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisan from the ramparts of the Red Fort in his Independence Day speech.

But to his family, that respect seems more like a token to sway a vote bank rather than being motivated by by genuine feeling.

A senior Congress leader said that Shastri has been the unfortunate victim of logistics. “Their birth anniversaries fall on the same day," this leader said. "Since the Mahatma has such a huge aura among Indians, that Shastriji’s importance as a leader is overshadowed on his own birth anniversary.”

Charges dismissed

He added that majority of Indians are not even aware that Shastri’s birthday is on the same day as Mahatma Gandhi.

The BJP leaders however dismissed the charge that Modi had forgotten about Shastri after winning the Lok Sabha elections.

“Modiji went to both Rajghat [Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial] and Vijayghat [Lal Bahadur Shastri’s memorial] to pay tribute to the great leaders," said Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay. "Shastri’s daughter-in-law and one of the senior BJP leaders in Delhi, Neera Shastri, was with Modiji during the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The clean India drive among others is inspired from the great works done by both Gandhiji and Lal Bahadur Shastri.”