When you study the political history of India after Independence, the role played by the Prime Ministers of India should be properly understood. In this post, we cover the list of Prime Ministers of India.
The Prime Minister of India is the leader of the executive of the Government of India. The prime minister is also the chief adviser to the president of India and head of the Council of Ministers.
The Prime Minister (PM) can be a member of any of the two houses of the Parliament of India—the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of the States)—but has to be a member of the political party or coalition, having a majority in the Lok Sabha.
Now let us see the personalities who served as Prime Ministers of India, in chronological order.
Jawahar Lal Nehru (1st Time)
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was an Indian freedom fighter who belonged to the Indian National Congress party.
He was the MP for Phulpur.
After independence, on 15 August 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru assumed office as the first Prime Minister of India and chose fifteen ministers to form the First Nehru ministry and was appointed by Lord Mountbatten.
His first term in office was from 15 August 1947 to 15 April 1952.
Jawahar Lal Nehru (2nd Time)
Nehru’s 2nd term in office was from 15 April 1952 to 17 April 1957.
Jawahar Lal Nehru (3rd Time)
The third Nehru ministry was formed on 17 April 1957 after the Indian National Congress won the 1957 general election with a vast majority. His term this time was from 17 April 1957 to 2 April 1962.
Jawahar Lal Nehru (4th Time)
The Fourth Nehru ministry was formed on 2 April 1962 after the Indian National Congress won the 1962 general election. Nehru had been in the term of Prime Minister for a total of 16 years, 286 days.
His total tenure was from 15.08.1947 to 27.05.1964.
Gulzari Lal Nanda (Acting PM – 1st time)
Gulzarilal Nanda (4 July 1898 – 15 January 1998) was an Indian politician and economist who specialized in labour issues.
He was the Prime Minister of India for two short periods following the deaths of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964 and Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966.
Both his terms ended after the ruling Indian National Congress’s parliamentary party elected a new prime minister.
He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 1997.
He was the MP for Sabarkantha.
His first tenure was from 27.05.1964 to 09.06.1964.
Lal Bahadur Shastri
He was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress political party.
He joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s.
Following independence in 1947, he joined the Indian government and became one of Prime Minister Nehru’s principals, first as Railways Minister (1951–56), and then in a variety of other functions, including Home Minister.
He led the country during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.
His slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”) became very popular during the war.
His tenure is from 09.06.1964 to 11.01.1966.
Gulzari Lal Nanda (Acting PM – 2nd time)
His second tenure was from 11.01.1966 to 24.01.1966
Indira Gandhi (1st time)
She was the first and, to date, the only female Prime Minister of India. Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India.
She was the second longest-serving Indian Prime Minister.
She was lauded as The Iron Lady of India, a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style.
She went to war with Pakistan in support of the independence movement and war of independence in East Pakistan, which resulted in an Indian victory and the creation of Bangladesh.
Citing separatist tendencies and in response to a call for revolution, Gandhi instituted a state of emergency from 1975 to 1977 where basic civil liberties were suspended and the press was censored.
Her first tenure was from 24 January 1966 to 4 March 1967.
Indira Gandhi (2nd time)
The second term of Indira Gandhi was from 4 March 1967 to 15 March 1971.
Indira Gandhi (3rd time)
The third term of Indira Gandhi was from 15 March 1971 to 24 March 1977.
It was during this term, National Emergency was declared in India. Citing separatist tendencies and in response to a call for revolution, Gandhi instituted a state of emergency from 1975 to 1977.
He was an Indian independence activist and served as the 4th Prime Minister of India.
He led the government formed by the Janata Party.
Desai became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.
He is the oldest person to hold the office of the prime minister, at the age of 84, in the history of Indian politics.
His tenure was from 24.03.1977 to 28.07.1979
He served as the 5th Prime Minister of India.
Historians and people alike frequently refer to him as the ‘champion of India’s peasants.’
His tenure is from 28.07.1979 to 14.01.1980.
Indira Gandhi (4th time)
In 1980, she returned to power after free and fair elections.
After Gandhi ordered military action in the Golden Temple in Operation Blue Star, she was assassinated by her own bodyguards and Sikh nationalists on 31 October 1984.
Her third tenure was from 14.01.1980 to 31.10.1984.
He was an Indian politician who served as the 6th Prime Minister of India.
He took office after the 1984 assassination of his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to become the youngest Indian Prime Minister at the age of 40.
Gandhi’s first action as Prime Minister was passing the anti-defection law in January 1985.
While campaigning for the elections, he was assassinated by a suicide bomber from the LTTE.
His tenure was from 31.10.1984 to 01.12.1989
He was the 7th Prime Minister of India from 1989 to 1990.
In 1969, he joined the Indian National Congress party and was elected as a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. In 1988, he formed the Janata Dal party by merging various factions of the Janata Party. In the 1989 elections, the National Front, with the support of the BJP, formed the government and Singh became the 7th Prime Minister of India.
During his tenure as prime minister, he implemented the Mandal Commission report for India’s backward castes.
His tenure was from 01.12.1989 to 10.11.1990
He served as the eighth Prime Minister of India, between 10 November 1990 and 21 June 1991.
He headed a minority government of a breakaway faction of the Janata Dal with outside support from the Indian National Congress as a stop gap arrangement to delay elections.
The Indian economic crisis, 1991, and the Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi plunged his government into crisis.
He is the first Indian Prime Minister who has never held any Government office.
P.V. Narshima Rao
He was an Indian lawyer and politician who served as the 9th Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996.
He led an important administration, overseeing a major economic transformation. His term also saw several home incidents affecting the national security of India.
He is often referred to as the “Father of Indian Economic Reforms”. He employed Dr. Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister to embark on historic economic transition.
He accelerated the dismantling of the License Raj, reversing the socialist policies of Rajiv Gandhi’s government.
Rao’s term also saw the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh
His tenure was from 21.06.1991 to 16.05.1996
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
A B Vajpayee was a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
He served three terms as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, followed by a full term from 1999 to 2004.
His first term was from 16 May 1996 to 1 June 1996.
H.D. Deve Gowda
He was the 11th Prime Minister of India from 1 June 1996 to 21 April 1997, heading Janatha Dal (United Front) government.
In the 1996 general elections, no party won enough seats to form a government. When the United Front, a coalition of regional parties, formed the central government with the support of the Congress, Deve Gowda was unexpectedly chosen to head the government and became the 11th Prime Minister of India.
He served as the 12th Prime Minister of India from April 1997 to March 1998, heading Janatha Dal (United Front) government.
In 1976, Gujral worked as the Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union. In 1996, he became the Minister of External Affairs in the Deve Gowda Ministry. He is known for the ‘Gujral doctrine’.
His tenure as PM lasted only for less than a year.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (2nd time)
The 2nd term of Atal Bihari Vajpayee under NDA government was from 19 March 1998 to 10 October 1999.
During his tenure as prime minister, India carried out the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. Vajpayee sought to improve diplomatic relations with Pakistan, travelling to Lahore by bus to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
After the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, he sought to restore relations through engagement with President Pervez Musharraf, inviting him to India for a summit at Agra.
His 2nd term lasted only for 13 months.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (3rd time)
The 3rd term of Atal Bihari Vajpayee under NDA government was from 10 October 1999 to 22 May 2004.
He was the first Indian prime minister not of the Indian National Congress party to have served a full five-year term in office.
Dr Manmohan Singh
He is an Indian economist, academic, and politician who served as the 13th Prime Minister of India.
His first term was from 22-05-2004 to 22-05-2009.
His first ministry executed several key legislations and projects, including the Rural Health Mission, Unique Identification Authority, Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and Right to Information Act. In 2008, a civil nuclear agreement was signed with the United States.
Dr Manmohan Singh (2nd time)
The 2nd term of Manmohan Singh under UPA II government was from 22-05-2009 to 26-05-2014.
Narendra Modi (1st time)
Narendra Modi’s first term was from 26-05-2014 to 30-05-2019.
He headed the BJP-led NDA government, which was India’s first non-Congress single-party majority government.
He initiated a controversial demonetisation of high-denomination banknotes during his first term. Modi had also begun a high-profile sanitation campaign and brought many reforms in environmental and labour laws.
Modi is the second non-Congress party PM to complete five years in office after Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Narendra Modi (2nd time)
Narendra Modi’s second term as PM is from 30-05-2019 to till date.
He is the first prime minister outside of the Indian National Congress to win two consecutive terms with a full majority.