NEW DELHI: Nobody knows whether runaway diamantaire Nirav Modi will ever repay the multi-million rupee loan he took from Punjab National Bank (PNB). But a car loan of Rs 5,000 taken by former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri from the same bank was repaid after his sudden death by widow Lalita from her pension, says son Anil Shastri.
“We went to St Columba’s School on a tonga. Once in a while we used the office car but my father did not allow us to use it regularly for any kind of private work. There was a demand at home that we should buy a car,” recalls Anil Shastri, a senior Congress politician. The year was 1964. Following enquiries by VS Venkatraman, the special assistant to the PM, the Shastris came to know that a new Fiat costs Rs 12,000. The family only had Rs 7,000 in the bank. The Prime Minister applied for a loan of Rs 5,000 loan which was sanctioned the same day.
The car was a cream coloured 1964 model Fiat with the impressive number, DLE 6. It is now exhibited in the Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial at 1, Motilal Nehru Marg, in the capital. Founded in 1894, PNB was inspired by the idea to start a swadeshi bank during the British Raj. Among its early board of directors was Lala Lajpat Rai, who played a distinguished role in India’s freedom struggle.