Brief History: Prime Minister, according to the Constitution of India, is considered head of the Council of Ministers, Chief Counselor of the President of India, and person in-charge of the majority party in the parliament. The PM is appointed by the president to support administration affairs as an executive. In short, Prime Minister leads the administrative branch of the Government. For example, current Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party is prime authority to run the Indian Government.
The prime minister has power to select and deselect members of the cabinet. Moreover, he can distribute posts to members within the Government. He is a presiding member and chairman of the cabinet and is responsible for bringing proposal of legislation. The resignation or death of the prime minister dissolves the cabinet.
Since 1947, India has had fifteen prime ministers (including Gulzarilal Nanda who twice acted in the role). Nehru remains India’s longest-serving prime minister. Morarji Desai was the first non-Congress prime minister. Narender Modi is considered most favorite prime minister of all time. Rajiv Gandhi was India’s youngest Prime Minister with great personality. Below is the complete list of the Prime Ministers of India.
1.) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru – was the first Prime Minister of India and a vital stature in Indian politics. Pt. Nehru got graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, where he got trained to be a barrister. He emerged as one of the chief and popular leader of the Indian independence movement under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. Pt. Nehru is considered to be the pillar of the modern and free Indian national State. As Prime Minister, he set out to recognize his vision of India by introducing Constitution of India in 1950, thereafter embarking ambitious agenda on economic, social and political reforms. Under Nehru’s leadership, the Congress emerged as a catch-all party, dominating national and state-level politics and winning consecutive elections in 1951, 1957, and 1962. During his life span, he was popularly known as Pandit Nehru or as Panditji (Respected Scholar), even many Indian children called him as “Chacha Nehru” and celebrates his birthday as Children’s Day. He died in year 1964 at the age of 74.
2.) Gulzarilal Nanda – was born on 4 July 1898 in Sialkot in the Punjab Province of British India into a Punjabi Hindu family. He was the second Prime Minister of India for two short periods following the deaths of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964 and Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966. Both of his term ended within few days (in next to no time as new prime minister got elected). He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 1997. He worked more as a temporary Prime Minister of India, but known to be one of the most modest people to have graced the Parliament. He died in the year 1999 at the age of 99.
3.) Lal Bahadur Shastri – was born in 1904 at Mughalsarai, Varanasi. He was the Third Prime Minister of the Republic of India and a leader of the Indian National Congress party. Shastri joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. Deeply impressed and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he became a loyal follower, first of Gandhi, and then of Jawaharlal Nehru. And was the reason that he became the next prime minister. During his tenure he continued Nehru’s policies of non-alignment and socialism. Before PM he worked as a first Railways Minister (1951–56), and then in a variety of other functions, including Home Minister. His popular slogan Jai Jawan! Jai Kishan! Echo even today throughout the country. His sudden death at the age of just 61 has led to many conspiracy theories that he was poisoned.
4.) Indira Gandhi – daughter of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru was the fourth Prime Minister of India and an essential stature in the Indian National Congress party. She was born in 19 November 1917 in Allahabad in a Kashmiri Pandit family. She served the nation from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her killing in 1984. She is the second longest serving Prime Minister and the only Indian woman to hold the office. She claimed that only “clear vision, iron will and the strictest discipline” can remove poverty and corruption. In 1972, Gandhi granted statehood to Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura, while the North-East Frontier Agency was declared a union territory and renamed Arunachal Pradesh. The transition to statehood for these territories was successfully overseen by her administration. During her tenure there was famous Indo-Pak War and Blue Star Operation. She died in 1984 at the age 66.
5.) Morarji Desai – born on 29 Feb 1896 was a prominent Indian independence campaigner and the fifth Prime Minister of India from 1977 – 1979. He was also the first Prime Minister to head India’s first non-Congress Government, as a leader of Janata Party. He held many important posts in the Government of India such as: Chief Minister of Bombay State, Home Minister, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India. Nationally, he played crucial role in Indian nuclear program when it was targeted by major nuclear power countries after conducting a surprise test in 1974. Morarji Desai closed down much of India’s premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and reduced its budget and operations. Desai was the only Indian national to be conferred with Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, which was conferred on him by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990 in a lively ceremony. Shortly, his policies promoted social, health and administrative reforms in the nation.
6.) Charan Singh – born on 29 May 1902, he was the sixth Prime Minister of India, serving from 28 July 1979 until 14 January 1980. He was born in a Jat family in Hapur District in Uttar Pradesh. He entered politics as part of the Independence Movement. He was the leader of the Bharatiya Lok Dal Party. And soon after freedom, he became notable in the year 1950s for opposing and winning a battle against Jawaharlal Nehru’s socialistic & collectivist land use policies (for the sake of the Indian Farmer) which endeared him to the agrarian communities all through the nation, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Charan Singh holds the record of being the sole Prime Minister of India who did not face the Lok Sabha even for a single day during his short tenure of just a month. His work tenure was of just 170 days due to withdraw of congress support. He died in 1987 at the age of 84.
7.) Rajiv Gandhi – was born in the year 1944. He was the seventh & youngest Prime Minister of India, serving from 1984 to 1989. He took Congress office after assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Rajiv after completing his studies & training returned to India in 1966 and became a professional pilot for the nation owned Indian Airlines. And In 1968, got married to Albina Maino (later changed her name to Sonia Gandhi) from Italy. He came out to be the very popular, smart & intelligent politician during his tenure. And was also circle around various Controversies like Bofors scandal, Shah Bano case, Allegations of black money, Anti-Sikh riots, Funding from KGB, etc. Rajiv Gandhi remained Congress President until the elections in 1991. While campaigning for the elections, he was assassinated by a suicide bomber from the LTTE. He died in 1991 at the immature age of 46.
8.) V.P. Singh – Vishwanath Pratap Singh was born in year the 25 June 1931. He was the eighth Prime Minister of India (1989–90) and the 41st nominal Raja Bahadur (ruler) of the northern kingdom of Manda. He even worked in much government imminent posts. He is known for demanding of upliftment of India’s lower castes and BPL people in his short term as Prime Minister. He even got popular after sacrificing his post from Minister of Finance before PM. Singh founded the Janata Dal Party by the merger of Lok Dal, Jan Morcha, Janata Party and Congress, in order to bring together all the centrist parties conflicting to the Rajiv Gandhi government, and VP Singh was elected the President of the Janata Dal. He died in 2008 at the age of 77.
9.) Chandra Shekhar Singh– Was born 1 July 1927 in Ballia District of Uttar Pradesh. He was known as an agitator in college politics and started his political career with Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia. In 1955–56, he took over as general secretary of the Janata party. And immediately after the Emergency he became the first President of the Janata Party. With the support of Congress headed by Rajiv Gandhi, he replaced V.P. Singh as the ninth Prime Minister of India in November 1990. Keeping up to his promise Chandra Shekhar’s government was efficient and well run during most of its brief tenure, which included the run up and fighting of the Gulf War of 1990–91. But in the spring of 1991, Former Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi decided to precipitate a new election in which he would retake power. He died in the year 2007 at the age of 80
10.) P.V. Narasimha Rao – Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao was born in the year 28 June 1921 in Karimnagar in Telangana State. He was the famous Indian lawyer and politician who served as the tenth Prime Minister of India from year 1991 to 1996. Narasimha Rao was the dynamic freedom fighter during the Indian Independence movement and joined permanent politics after independence as a member of the Indian National Congress. He held many administrative posts in Indian Government before becoming PM. He was the first non Hindi language speaking PM from south India. He was intellectual person and is often referred to as the “Father of Indian Economic Reforms”. He was even famous for speaking 17 different languages. Liberalizing Indian economy he appointed an economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh, a former Prime Minister of India, as Finance Minister to accomplish his goals. He died in 2004 of a heart attack in New Delhi at the age of 83.
11.) Atal Bihari Vajpayee – was born in 25 December 1924 in brahmin family in Gwalior. He was the eleventh Prime Minister of India. He served the nation for two periods, first as PM for 13 days in 1996 and then for 6 years from 1998 to 2004. He became the popular leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the first Prime Minister from outside the Congress party to serve for full five year term. Before PM he worked as Minister of External Affairs in the cabinet of Morarji Desai. When Janata government collapsed, Vajpayee restarted the Jana Sangh as the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980. On 25 December 2014 the office of President of India announced the Bharat Ratna award, India’s highest civilian honour, to Vajpayee and in a special gesture later presented Bharat Ratna to him in his residence on 27th March 2015. He was well known for speaking bold Hindi language & poetry. His birthday on 25 December was even declared as “Good Governance Day”.
12.) H.D. Deve Gowda – Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda was born in the year 18 May 1933 in Mysore. He is the 12th Prime Minister of India from June 1996 to April 1997. He even was Chief Minister of Karnataka from 1994 to 1996. Deve Gowda was twice the President of state unit of the Janata Party and served as a minister in the Janata Party Government in Karnataka headed by Shri Ramakrishna Hegde from 1983 to 1988. He is a member of the 16th Lok Sabha representing the Hassan constituency of Karnataka, is the National President of the Janata Dal Party, and enjoys strong support in Vokkaliga community which is at the forefront of the state politics.
13.) I.K. Gujral – was born on 4 December 1919 to in Jhelum in present day Pakistan. Inder Kumar Gujral served as the thirteenth Prime Minister of India from April 1997 to March 1998. He participated in the Indian independence movement and was jailed in 1942 during the Quit India Movement. As a student he became a member of the Communist Party of India. Gujral was the third PM to be from the Rajya Sabha, the first being Indira Gandhi and the second H. D. Deve Gowda. He resigned from the Indian National Congress party in the 1980s and then joined the Janata Dal Party. His tenure as PM was just of one year. He died in 2012 at the age of 92.
14.) Manmohan Singh – was born in the year 26 September 1932 in Gah (now in Pakistan). He is well-known as bright Indian economist who also served as the 14th Prime Minister of India from 2004 to 2014. He was the first Sikh as a Prime Minister and the Second PM to complete full continuous 10 year term. After attaining his doctorate in economics from Oxford, he worked for the United Nations in 1966–69. He as a Finance Minister carried out numerous structural reforms that liberalised India’s financial system. His ideas proved successful in preventing the crisis and uplifted his reputation internationally as a leading reform-minded economist. In a surprise move, Chairperson Sonia Gandhi declared Manmohan Singh as the UPA candidate for the Prime Ministership. His public image got stained with his government having been accused of various corruption scandals like 2G spectrum scam, Commonwealth Games Scam, Indian coal allocation scam, etc. and opposition demanded his resignation for his supposed role in all this.
15.) Narendra Damodardas Modi – was born in the year 17 September 1950 in Mehsana district in Gujarat. He is the current & 15th Prime Minister of India. He came out as the strongest leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who formerly worked for 14 continuous years as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014. Due to his audacious popularity, he alone gave the party a majority in the Lok Sabha. He as a Hindu nationalist is also the member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). His government in Gujarat was criticized worldwide for its failure to prevent the 2002 Gujarat riots. Although Modi’s economic policies have been praised and credited with encouraging economic growth in Gujarat. Modi was a candidate from two constituencies: Varanasi & Vadodara. He was supported by the many spiritual leaders including Ramdev and Morari Bapu. Even some economists like Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, were impressed by his economics strategies.
List of all Indian Prime Ministers