Indian Politics, Parties, and Prime Ministers

Blog 6-Indian Politics

The first among equals, the head of the Cabinet and the leader of the Executive of the Government of India, the Prime Minister serves a pivotal role in nation building. In our history as a democratic, independent, sovereign Nation, we have been served by 16 Prime Ministers, each having made significant contributions to the way the country has progressed and evolved.

As the Lok Sabha 2019 results are announced, why not take a little break and a trip down India’s history to revisit all our hon’ble Prime Ministers. How many of them do you remember?

1. Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-64)
The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru served our country for 16 years and 286 days. He was a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) and under his leadership, the INC won three consecutive general elections. His birthday, 14th November, is fondly commemorated as Children’s Day. He was recognized by Mahatma Gandhi as his political heir and successor, as early as in 1941.

2. Gulzarilal Nanda (1964; Acting PM)
Gulzarilal Nanda acted as an interim Prime Minister after the death of Nehru in 1964, till the election and swearing-in of the new Prime Minister. He was a politician, economist, and a research scholar who specialized in labour issues.

3. Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964-66)
We all know him for the famous slogan he gave- ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’. He served as our PM for 1 year and 216 days and led the country through the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. Prior to becoming the Prime Minister, he held several portfolios in the Cabinet, including Minister for Railways, Minister for Transport and Communications, Minister for Commerce and Industry, and Home Minister.

4. Gulzarilal Nanda (1966; Acting PM)
After the sudden death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Gulzarilal Nanda was appointed as an interim Prime Minister once again.

5. Indira Gandhi (1966-77)
The first and only woman to serve as India’s Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was a force to reckon with. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and came to power twice. During the first term, she went to war with Pakistan to support East Pakistan, and we saw the emergence of a new, independent country – Bangladesh.

6. Morarji Desai (1977-79)
The year 1977 witnessed a change in the ruling party in India. The opposition, Janta Party, came to power by opposing the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi. Morarji Desai was chosen as the Prime Minister among the leaders of the party and he served for 2 years and 126 days.

7. Charan Singh (1979-80)
Due to some internal issues, Morarji Desai resigned and Charan Singh was appointed the new Prime Minister of the country. But Charan Singh had to resign only after a few weeks of serving his term. All the alliances withdrew their support and President Reddy called for fresh elections in 1980.

8. Indira Gandhi (1980-84)
Indira Gandhi rose to power once again and this time her term lasted for 4 years and 291 days. The controversial Operation Blue Star was initiated during this term and its repercussions proved to be fatal for her and the nation. She was assassinated by her own guards, retaliating in the aftermath of Operation.

9. Rajiv Gandhi (1984-89)
After the demise of Indira Gandhi, her son, Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India. He led the Congress party to a landslide victory in the general elections and served for 5 years and 32 days.

10. V.P. Singh (1989-90)
The principal founder of Janta Dal, V.P. Singh, came to power in the 9th General Elections. He was famous for implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations during his term. This coalition government, however, soon disintegrated and he had to resign.

11. Chandra Shekhar (1990-91)
The next in line was Chandra Shekhar from Samajwadi Janta Party who served as Prime Minister of India for seven months. He had to resign when Congress withdrew support, but, remained in the position till the next elections could be held.

12. P.V. Narasimha Rao (1991-96)
The 9th PM of India, Narasimha Rao was the first person from southern India to be elected to the office of the Prime Minister. It was under his leadership that the economic reforms (NEP) were introduced in 1991, leading to liberalization of the Indian economy. Also, he introduced the important, Look East Policy, which focused on building strategic partnerships with our neighbours in South East Asia.

13. Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1996)
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a member of Bhartiya Janta Party and he served as the PM for three terms. The first term lasted for only 16 days as BJP failed to garner a majority to form the government.

14. H.D. Deve Gowda (1996-97)
The 1996 general elections saw the emergence of United Front (a coalition of non-Congress and non-BJP regional parties) and the party chose H.D. Gowda to be appointed as the Prime Minister of the country.

15. Inder K. Gujral (1997-98)
I.K. Gujral from Janta Dal was appointed as India’s 12th Prime Minister. He, however, had to resign shortly as Indian National Congress withdrew their support and the President had to dissolve the government and issue re-elections.

16. Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004)
Atal Bihari Vajpayee returned to the PMO for the second time as the leader of National Democratic Alliance, forming a coalition government. It was under his tenure that the second Pokharan Tests were conducted. He also worked towards reviving relationships with Pakistan, pushing for a full-scale diplomatic peace process. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also a poet and loved interacting with children.

17. Manmohan Singh (2004-09)
After the NDA government, Congress came to power by forming the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) with their allies. Sonia Gandhi declared Manmohan Singh as India’s next PM and he continued to serve two tenures. Before becoming the PM, Manmohan Singh had served as the Finance Minister in the Narsimha Rao government, having been instrumental in introducing and implementing the New Economic Policy in the country.

18. Narendra Modi (2014-19)
Our current PM, Narendra Modi, member of BJP was sworn in as our Prime Minister in May 2014. He introduced several measures, including Demonetization, Swachchh Bharat Abhiyaan, etc., during his terms. He is now looking strong for a second term as a Prime Minister, but we will know for sure once the 2019 Lok Sabha Election Results are announced!

Let’s wait and watch, and while we do that, let’s go through this list again and make sure we know enough about our country!