Acharya Vishnukant Shastri passes away
Tributes to a visionary
Former Governor of Uttar Pradesh, eminent thinker, Hindi and Sanskrit scholar, Acharya Vishnukant Shastri passed away following a cardiac arrest in Patna bound Howrah-Danapur Express on April 17, 2005. He was 76. He was on his way to deliver a spiritual discourse on the Bhagwadgita. He is survived by his daughter. His wife had passed away a few years back. Acharya Vishnukant Shastri was cremated with full state honours at Nimtalaghat in Kolkata on April 19. BJP president L.K. Advani with thousands of party activists were present for the last rites West Bengal BJP chief Tathagato Roy, former Union Minister Tapan Sikdar and Mayor of Kolkata, Subrata Mukherjee, Left Front chief, Biman Bose, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, and Ajit Panja visited Shastri'sresidence and placed wreaths on the body.
The body was kept at Shastri'sresidence at Kolkata to enable admirers and students to pay their last respects. Earlier the body was taken to the BJP office, Calcutta University, where he studied and taught Hindi for several years and to the RSS office, Keshav Bhavan.
The CPI (M) state committee condoled Shastri'sdeath saying, ?despite having ideological and political differences with him, Shastri'sdeath has saddened us because of his closeness to us.? Earlier President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam also condoled the death of Shastri. He said that Shastri contributed a lot to public life, as a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly and as a Member of Rajya Sabha. Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, senior BJP leader Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bihar Governor Sardar Buta Singh and BJP national vice-president Sushil Kumar Modi also condoled his death.
In his condolence message, Shri Vajpayee said, ?in Shastri'sdeath we have lost a great literary person, dedicated politician, excellent administrator and a sensitive personality. Wherever he worked he left a lasting impression and earned the respect of all by his behaviour.? Shri Shekhawat said that Shastri was a high-class teacher, thinker and literary person. He said that Shastri was fully dedicated to Indian culture and national life. Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav said that Shastri was a good administrator and simple human being and Uttar Pradesh would never forgot his contribution as Governor of the state. Uttaranchal Chief Minister N.D. Tewari in his condolence message described Shastri as a high-class scholar, politician and well-wisher of the poor. Shri Salman Khurshid, UPCC president, Shri Mata Prasad, former Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Swami Chinmayanand, former Union Minister also condoled the death.
According to reports, Shastri, in the morning, collapsed and died inside the toilet of the train, he was traveling in. The toilet door was broken open by his attendants who apprehended something wrong, as Shastri did not respond to their call for a long time. His body was later taken to the Patna Medical College and hospital for autopsy before being brought to the state BJP headquarters. His body was later flown to Kolkata on April 18 by a BSF helicopter for cremation.
Shastri became the Member of the West Bengal Assembly in 1977 and was also a Member of the Rajya Sabha. He took over Governor of Uttar Pradesh while he was serving as the vice president of the BJP at the national level. Besides translating several Bengali and Hindi books, Shastri also authored several books in Hindi. Books edited by the renowned writer includes Darshak aur aaj ka Hindi rangmanch, Balmukund Gupt, Ek mulyankan, Bangladesh: Sanskriti aur Sahitya and Tulsi Das: Aj ke sandarbha mein. He had retired as Acharya of Hindi department of Calcutta University in 1994 prior to becoming Governor of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The death of Acharya Shastri was received as a shock in the Hindi literary world. Remembering the legend, Shri Ved Pratap Vaidik, chairman, Bharatiya Bhasha Sammelan, said, ?he was one of the brightest stars of the Hindi world. His sudden demise has come as a rude shock. He was a writer, critic, and an orator par excellence. His personality was the shining example of maintaining high moral status in politics.?
A nishkam karmayogi -K.S. Sudarshan
?The news of Shri Vishnukant Shastri'spassing away came as a shock. We have been deprived of a great literary person who had good command over Hindi and Bangla languages. His tenure, first as member of West Bengal Legislative Assembly and later as Rajya Sabha MP, would always be remembered. He established values in politics with his conduct. He also presented an ideal as Governor of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. A sweet-natured Vishnukant Shastri was proud of being a Sangh Swayamsevak. He was going to participate in a literary convention but cardiac arrest has snatched him away from us. I had a very deep relationship with him. I, on behalf of all Swayamsevaks, pay my humble tributes to the great soul. Paramdham is the only place for such a nishkam karmayogi.?