Image Credits: Lok Sabha
Algu Rai Shastri
1900 - 1967

Early Life:

Shastri was born in present day Uttar Pradesh on 29 January 1900. After completing his schooling in the Mission School in Varanasi, he graduated from Kashi Vidyapith University.

 

Shastri was a member of the All India Congress Committee since 1928 and was also devoted to his membership in the Arya Samaj. He had served as a life member of the Servants of the People Society and was a member of the Senate of the Agra University from 1946-1950. 

 

As a member of the Arya Samaj, Shastri denounced practices like untouchability and idol worship. 

 

Role in India’s Independence Movement:

Shastru had an active political career, He served as the Secretary of the Meerut District Congress Committee (1928-1930), Secretary of the Delhi Provincial Congress Committee (1930-1933) and Member of the Legislative Assembly of United Provinces (1937-1952). Shastri was strong advocate for adopting Hindi as the official language for government proceedings in India and urged for the same during Constitutent Assembly Debates.  He opposed protecting religious minorities and strongly condemned forced religious conversion

 

Contribution to Constitution Making:

Shastri denouncing the reliance on the Government of India Act, 1935 stated, “It is, therefore, not proper for us to follow the Government of India Act, 1935, or take it as a Bible. But we find today that it is now actually being followed as a Bible.”

 

He was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946 from the United Provinces. As highlighted above, he urged the need to adopt Hindi as a national language and adopt the Constitution of India in Hindi. 

 

He spoke on emergency powers of the President of India and Governors, delimitation of constituencies, and restrictions on fundamental rights. 

 

Later Contributions:

Shashtri played an active political, legislative and administrative role in independent India. He was elected to the first Lok Sabha in 1952. Shastri was on the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha, Executive and Finance Committees and Planning Advisory Committee. He served as the President of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee in 1951. 

 

He was a Member of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.  

 

Shastri passed away on 12 February 1967

Shastri was not a member of any of the Assembly Committees.

Addressing the Constitutent Assembly in Hindi, Shastri stated that promises of "social and economic equality to all visualises a purely democratic State with the people's Government." He emphasised that an ideal state should not discriminate between the ruler and the ruled. 

 

Supporting a clause proposed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel against recognition of forced religious conversion, Shastri stated that forced conversion without informed consent is improper. 

 

He strongly advocated for restrictions on fundamental rights. He said freedom must be accompanied by responsibility. Since restrictions may imposed by representatives of the people, Shastri believed that reasonable restrictions will be imposed. 

 

Shastri discussed the importance of the right to vote to citizenship and therefore urged for discussion on delimitation of constituencies.

 

Departing from the Government of India Act, 1935, he emphasised on the need to provide governors of various states emergency powers similar to the President of India.