PMs of India – Nehru to NaMo

Sun, May 26, 2019

Who will be the next Prime Minister of India will most probably be known on 23rd May 2019 when results of the General Elections to the 17th Lok Sabha are declared.  So far 14 persons had held the office excluding Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda who held office twice as interim prime minister; majority of them were from Uttar Pradesh. Some of them had held the office continuously for 2-3 terms while some in two different spells.
Let us look at the past Prime Ministers of India, right from the midnight of August 14-15 1947 when ‘tryst with destiny’ was made by the first PM of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Lal Nehru, to the ‘ache din’ as promised by the latest, Narendra Modi - Nehru holds the unbeaten record for being in the office for the longest period – for continuous 17 years -   or  6,131 days to be precise. Born: Nov. 14, 1889 (Allahabad, U.P.). Died: 27.05. 1964, in his 75th year, shocked by the Chinese invasion of 1962. His “Hindi-Chini bhai, bhai” (India-China brothers) did not work, and we lost considerable land to China and to Pakistan in 1947 itself. Hence some people wonder if things would have been different had Sardar Patel, the Iron Man of India, been the PM. Nehru was conferred Bharat Ratna in 1955.
However, the first General Elections were held in the country in 1952 only and the first Lok Sabha was constituted on 17th April and met on 13th May. The second Lok Sabha came into being in April 1957, and the third in April 1962.
Twice as interim PM, first following the death of Pt. Nehru on May 27, 1964 for 14 days, and again on January 11, 1966, following the death of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri at Tashkent – again for 14 days!
Born on July 4, 1898, in Sialkot (Punjab), now in Pakistan. Died on January 15, 1998, few months ahead of his centenary birthday.  Professor-turned-trade unionist-turned politician and legislator, he was instrumental in organising the Indian National Trade Union Congress and later became its President.
At the Centre, he held the portfolios of Labour & Employment, Home Affairs, Planning, and also served as the Dy. Chairman of Planning Commission. Earlier, he was also the Labour Minister of the Bombay Government (1946-50). Conferred Bharat Ratna in 1997, Nanda was a Gandhian to the core.
This short-statured man stood tall with the victory of 1965 war with Pakistan and his succinct slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan!’, which reverberates even to this day.
Born on Oct. 2, 1904 (same date as Gandhiji) in Mughalsarai (Varanasi) in U.P. Died mysteriously on January 11, 1966 (same month as Gandhiji) at Tashkent, negotiating peace talks with Pakistan’s President, General Ayub Khan.
Despite coming to power after the sudden demise of Nehru, the popular first PM, he won the hearts of the citizens with his utmost simplicity and ruled for 582 days, until his sudden death.
In the direct tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Shastri represented the best in Indian culture.  
Conferred Bharat Ratna (posthumous, 1966)
As an interim Prime Minister for the second time, again for 14 days.
The first and so far the only woman PM, she holds the second longest innings as PM after her father; 300 days short of that record, not continuously but in two spells. Conferred Bharat Ratna in 1971.
Born on Nov. 19 1917 (Allahabad, U.P.).  Died on Oct. 31, 1984, few days short of her 67th birthday, assassinated by her own bodyguards.
Liberation of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), abolition of Privy Purse, nationalization of banks and India’s first nuclear test (Pokhran- 1974) are some of her hallmark achievements, besides declaring Emergency. Since her time the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty’s grip on Congress has been getting unavoidable. Remember the eulogy ‘Indira in India’? While the fourth   Lok  Sabha  came  into being  in  March  1967,    the  fifth   was formed in March 1971.
The first non-Congress PM, he held office for 857 days.
Born on Feb. 29 1896 (Bahadeli Village, Bulsar Dist., Gujarat). Died on April 10, 1995, just short of becoming a centenarian.
A staunch Gandhian and stickler to principles, he was conferred Bharat Ratna in 1991.
He held the office of Chief Minister of Bombay State (the combined province of Maharashtra and Gujarat) for four years from 1952.
The sixth Lok Sabha came into being in March 1977.
The ‘kisan’ (farmer) Prime Minister held the office for 171 days but never faced the Parliament. Who cares? His ambition of becoming PM had been fulfilled.
Born on Dec. 23, 1902 (Noorpur, Meerut Dist., U.P.). Died  on 29th May, 1987.
Within days of assuming office, one of the allies withdrew its support, upon which he continued as caretaker PM till fresh elections were held.
He held the office of Chief Minister of U.P.  twice, in 1967 & again in 1970.
For the second term, till her death on Oct. 31, 1984.
The seventh Lok Sabha came into being in January 1980.
The youngest Indian PM so far, this grandson of Nehru assumed office at the age of 40, the day his mother (Indira Gandhi) was assassinated.
Born on Aug. 20, 1944 (Bombay, now Mumbai), died on May 21, 1991, assassinated by a human bomb at Sriperumbudur near Chennai.
In the 1984 elections, this pilot-turned politician led his party to a landslide win with a record 404 seats and continued till Dec. 2, 1989, when his party lost in the next elections.  He died during election campaigning for the 1991 Lok Sabha elections.  
Conferred Bharat Ratna in 1991 (posthumous).
The eighth Lok Sabha came into being in December 1984.
This Raja of Manda (a Zamindari near Allahabad), became the 8th PM of India.
Born on June 25, 1931 (Allahabad, U.P.).  Died on November 27, 2008.
Riding on the combination of Janata Dal and the National Front, he ruled for 344 days.
He took a major decision in implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations ensuring reservation for OBCs in public sector jobs, hence known as ‘Mandal Messiah’.
He was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from June 9, 1980- June 28, 1982
The ninth Lok Sabha came into being in December 1989.
The ‘Young Turk’ reigned for 224 days.
Born on July 1, 1927 (Ibrahimpatti Vill., Ballia Dist., U.P.). Died on July 8, 2007.
Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao was the first from South India to hold this office; he ruled for full five years despite a hung parliament initially. He was also the first PM from outside the Nehru family to successfully lead a full five-year term.
Born: June 28, 1921 (Vangara, Karimnagar Dist., Andhra Pradesh). Died: December 23, 2004
He was Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh, 1971-73.
He launched the nation’s economic liberalization programme.
He could speak several languages – both Indian and foreign.
The tenth Lok Sabha came into being in June 1991
This first ‘bachelor’ PM also holds the record of sorts for being in the office for the shortest period! (Actually for 13 days).
Born: Dec. 25, 1924. (Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh). Died:16 August   2018.
An acclaimed poet, prolific writer and a great orator.
Vajpayee was a valiant advocate of Indian causes at various international forums.
The eleventh Lok Sabha came into being in May 1996.
The second government of the 11th Lok Sabha was headed by Haradanahalli Dodde Deve Gowda for roughly 11 months.
Born: May 18 1933 (Haradanahalli Village, Hassan Dist., Karnataka).  
Shri Deve Gowda resigned as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on May 30, 1996 to be sworn in as the Prime Minister of India.
The office of Prime Minister came to Shri Gowda without him seriously aspiring for it, because of his leadership of the Third Front – United Front (a group of regional parties and non-Congress and non-BJP combine).
As desired by a party extending outside support to United Front, he had to step down from the PM post.  
The third government of the 11th Lok Sabha was headed by Shri IK Gujral, which could last only for about 1 ½ years.  As the party extending outside support withdrew its support, his government lost majority and he resigned on Nov. 28, 1997 but continued as caretaker PM till March 19, 1998.
Born: 4th December 1919 at Jhelum (in undivided Punjab, now in Pakistan). Died: 30th  November 2012.
For the second time, Shri AB Vajpayee, as the head of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), was sworn in as PM on March 19, 1998, which lasted for 13 months, as it lost majority by a single vote.
 The short tenure is marked by nuclear tests again at Pokhran and Kargil victory.
Third time lucky, Atalji took charge as Prime Minister of India on October 13, 1999, and this time he became the first non-Congress PM to complete a full five-year term.
The twelfth Lok Sabha came into being in March 1998 and the 13th Lok Sabha, in October 1999.
India's second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, was conferred upon him in 1992.
Number 13 seems to have played a significant role in his political career.
Because Sonia Gandhi ‘declined’ the post, Manmohan Sing became the ‘Accidental Prime Minister’.
An economist-turned politician, he is credited with ushering in the economic reforms as the Finance Minister (1991-96), under P.V. Narasimha Rao. Earlier, he was also the RBI Governor. Had successfully completed two full terms consecutively, long after Nehru.
Born: September 26, 1932, in a village in the Punjab province of undivided India, now in Pakistan.
Dr. Singh has been a Member of India's Upper House of Parliament (the Rajya Sabha) since 1991.
The 14th Lok Sabha came into being in May 2004, and the 15th Lok Sabha in the month of May 2009.
On 26th  May 2014 Narendra Modi of BJP took oath as the Prime Minister of India, becoming the first ever PM to be born after India attained Independence.
Born on 17 September 1950 in a small town in Gujarat, in a family that belonged to the other backward class. He was CM of Gujarat for four terms since 2001.
Some of his pet themes were - Make in India, Swachh Bharat, Yoga, Demonetisation.
Probably he visited many more foreign countries during his five year term than any other Indian PM.  
The    five-year term     of     the     16th Lok Sabha  is due  to    expire     on     03rd June,    2019.

Prime Ministers of India (including interim PMs) 




18. Narendra Modi  

May 26, 2014 – holding


17. Dr. Manmohan Singh

May 22, 2004 - May 26, 2014


16. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee

March 19, 1998 - May 22, 2004

Bharatiya Janata Party

15. Shri Inder Kumar Gujral

April 21, 1997 - March 19, 1998

Janata Dal

14. Shri H. D. Deve Gowda

June 1, 1996 - April 21, 1997

Janata Dal

13. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee

May 16, 1996 - June 1, 1996

Bharatiya Janata Party

12. Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao

June 21, 1991- May 16, 1996

Congress (I)

11. Shri Chandra Shekhar

November 10, 1990 - June 21, 1991

Janata Dal (S)

10. Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh

December 2, 1989 - November 10, 1990

Janata Dal

09. Shri Rajiv Gandhi

October 31, 1984 - December 2, 1989

Congress (I)

08. Mrs. Indira Gandhi

January 14, 1980 - October 31, 1984

Congress (I)

07. Shri Charan Singh

July 28, 1979 - January 14, 1980

Janata Party

06. Shri Morarji Desai

March 24, 1977 - July 28, 1979

Janata Party

05. Mrs. Indira Gandhi

January 24, 1966 - March 24, 1977


04. Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda#

January 11, 1966 - January 24, 1966


03. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri

June 9, 1964 - January 11, 1966


02. Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda#

May 27, 1964 - June 9, 1964


01. Shri Jawaharlal Nehru

August 15, 1947 - May 27, 1964


# - Interim Prime Minister

With additional inputs from the websites of PMO /PIB/ Parliament /ECI


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