Prime Minister of India

Head of the Government of India

The Prime minister of India (Bhārat kē Pradamuntro) is the chief executive officer of the Government of India. The prime minister leads the executive branch of the union government and chairs the Council of Ministers. It is the third highest office of political authority in the Republic of India.

Prime Minister of India
Bhārat kē Pradamuntro
Prime Minister's Office
TypeHead of government
StatusLeader of the Executive
Member of
Reports to
Residence7, Lok Kalyan Marg, New Delhi, Delhi, India
SeatPrime Minister's Office, South Block, Central Secretariat, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, Delhi, India
NominatorLok Sabha Members
AppointerPresident of India
by convention, based on appointee's ability to command confidence in the Lok Sabha
Term lengthAt the pleasure of the President of India
Lok Sabha term is 5 years unless dissolved sooner
No term limits specified
Constituting instrumentArticles 74 & 75, Constitution of India
PrecursorVice President of the Executive Council
Formation15 August 1947; 76 years ago (1947-08-15)
First holderJawaharlal Nehru
DeputyDeputy Prime Minister
  • 1,000,000 (US$13,000) (per month)[1]
  • 12,360,000 (US$160,000) (Annual)[1]
WebsitePrime Minister Of India

The prime minister is appointed by the president of India; however the prime minister has to enjoy the confidence of the majority of Lok Sabha members, who are directly elected every five years, lest the prime minister shall resign. The prime minister can be a member of the Lok Sabha or of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the parliament. The prime minister unilaterally controls the selection and dismissal of members of the Council of Minister; and allocation of posts to members within the government. The council, which is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha as per Article 75(3), assists the president regarding the operations under the latter's powers; however, by the virtue of Article 74 of the Constitution, such 'aid and advice' tendered by the council is binding. The prime minister ranks third in the Indian order of precedence.

The longest-serving prime minister was Jawaharlal Nehru, also the first prime minister, whose rule lasted 16 years and 286 days. His premiership was followed by Lal Bahadur Shastri's short tenure and Indira Gandhi's 11- and 4-year-long tenures, both politicians belonging to the Indian National Congress. After Indira Gandhi's assassination, her son Rajiv took charge until 1989, when a decade with six unstable governments began. This was followed by the full terms of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, and Narendra Modi is the 15th and current prime minister of India, serving since 2024.

Origins and history change

India follows a parliamentary system in which the prime minister is the presiding head of the government and chief of the executive of the government. In such systems, the head of state, or, the head of state's official representative (i.e., the monarch, president, or governor-general) usually holds a purely ceremonial position and acts—on most matters—only on the advice of the prime minister.

The prime minister—if they are not already—must become a member of parliament within six months of beginning his/her tenure. A prime minister is expected to work with other central ministers to ensure the passage of bills by the parliament.

History change

1947–1984 change


Since 1947, there have been 14 different prime ministers.[a] The first few decades after 1947 saw the Indian National Congress' (INC) almost complete domination over the political map of India. India's first prime minister—Jawaharlal Nehru—took oath on 15 August 1947. Nehru went on to serve as prime minister for 17 consecutive years, winning four general elections in the process. His tenure ended in May 1964, on his death. [2][3] After the death of Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri—a former home minister and a leader of the Congress party—ascended to the position of prime minister. Shastri's tenure saw the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Shashtri subsequently died of a reported heart attack in Tashkent, after signing the Tashkent Declaration.[4] After Shastri, Indira Gandhi—Nehru's daughter—was elected as the country's first woman prime minister. Indira's first term in office lasted 11 years, in which she took steps such as nationalisation of banks;[5] end of allowances and political posts, which were received by members of the royal families of the erstwhile princely states of British India.[6] In addition, events such as the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971;[7] the establishment of a sovereign Bangladesh;[8] accession of Sikkim to India, through a referendum in 1975;[9] and India's first nuclear test in Pokhran occurred during Indira's first term. In 1975, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed—on Indira's advice—imposed a state of emergency, therefore, bestowing the government with the power to rule by decree, the period is known for human right violations.[10][11] After widespread protests, the emergency was lifted in 1977, and a general election was to be held.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Shahbanu Farah Pahlavi of Iran being received by prime minister Indira Gandhi at New Delhi airport, 1970.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Indira Gandhi, US state dinner, 1982.

All of the political parties of the opposition—after the conclusion of the emergency—fought together against the Congress, under the umbrella of the Janata Party, in the general election of 1977, and were successful in defeating the Congress. Subsequently, Morarji Desai—a former deputy prime minister—became the first non-Congress prime minister of India. The government of prime minister Desai was composed of groups with opposite ideologies, in which unity and co-ordination were difficult to maintain. Ultimately, after two and a half years as PM; on 28 July 1979, Morarji tendered his resignation to the president; and his government fell. Thereafter, Charan Singh—a deputy prime minister in Desai's cabinet—with outside, conditional support from Congress, proved a majority in Lok Sabha and took oath as prime minister.[12][13] However, Congress pulled its support shortly after, and Singh had to resign; he had a tenure of 5 months, the shortest in the history of the office. In 1980 Indian general election, after a three-year absence, the Congress returned to power with an absolute majority. Indira Gandhi was elected prime minister a second time.[14] During her second tenure, Operation Blue Star—an Indian Army operation inside the Golden Temple, the most sacred site in Sikhism—was conducted, resulting in reportedly thousands of deaths.[15] Subsequently, on 31 October 1984, Gandhi was shot dead by Satwant Singh and Beant Singh—two of her bodyguards—in the garden of her residence at 1, Safdarjung Road, New Delhi.[16]

1984–1999 change

After Indira, Rajiv—her eldest son and 40 years old at the time—was sworn in on the evening of 31 October 1984, becoming the youngest person ever to hold the office of prime minister. Rajiv immediately called for a general election. In the subsequent general election, the Congress secured an absolute majority, winning 401 of 552 seats in the Lok Sabha, the maximum number received by any party in the history of India.[17][18] Vishwanath Pratap Singh—first finance minister and then later defence minister in Gandhi's cabinet—uncovered irregularities, in what became known as the Bofors scandal, during his stint at the Ministry of Defence; Singh was subsequently expelled from Congress and formed the Janata Dal and—with the help of several anti-Congress parties—also formed the National Front, a coalition of many political parties.[19] In the general election of 1989, the National Front—with outside support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left Front—came to power.[20] V. P. Singh was elected prime minister.[20] During a tenure of less than a year, Singh and his government accepted the Mandal Commission's recommendations.[21] Singh's tenure came to an end after he ordered the arrest of BJP member Lal Krishna Advani,[22] as a result, BJP withdrew its outside support to the government, V. P. Singh lost the subsequent vote-of-no-confidence 146–320 and had to resign.[23] After V. P. Singh's resignation, Chandra Shekhar along with 64 members of parliament (MPs) floated the Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya),[24] and proved a majority in the Lok Sabha with support from Congress.[25] But Shekhar's premiership did not last long, Congress proceeded to withdraw its support; Shekhar's government fell as a result, and new elections were announced.[26] In the general election of 1991, Congress—under the leadership of P. V. Narasimha Rao—formed a minority government; Rao became the first PM of South Indian origin.[27] After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, India was on the brink of bankruptcy, so, Rao took steps to liberalise the economy, and appointed Manmohan Singh—an economist and a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India—as finance minister.[27] Rao and Singh then took various steps to liberalise the economy,[27] these resulted in an unprecedented economic growth in India.[28] His premiership, however, was also a witness to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, which resulted in the death of about 2,000 people.[29] Rao, however, did complete five continuous years in office, becoming the first prime minister outside of the Nehru—Gandhi family to do so.[27]

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, left with PM Rajiv Gandhi, Prince Claus, and Sonia Gandhi, The Hague, 1985.
Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, left, inaugurating the National Science Centre, New Delhi, 1 September 1992

After the end of Rao's tenure in May 1996, the nation saw four prime ministers in a span of three years, viz., two tenures of Atal Bihari Vajpayee; one tenure of H. D. Deve Gowda from 1 June 1996 to 21 April 1997; and one tenure of I. K. Gujral from 21 April 1997 to 19 March 1998. The government of Prime Minister Vajpayee—elected in 1998—took some concrete steps. In May 1998—after a month in power—the government announced the conduct of five underground nuclear explosions in Pokhran.[30] In response to these tests, many western countries, including the United States, imposed economic sanctions on India,[31] but, due to the support received from Russia, France, the Gulf countries and some other nations, the sanctions—were largely—not considered successful.[32][33] A few months later in response to the Indian nuclear tests, Pakistan also conducted nuclear tests.[34] Given the deteriorating situation between the two countries, the governments tried to improve bilateral relations. In February 1999, the India and Pakistan signed the Lahore Declaration, in which the two countries announced their intention to annul mutual enmity, increase trade and use their nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes.[35] In May 1999, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam withdrew from the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition;[36] Vajpayee's government, hence, became a caretaker one after losing a motion-of-no-confidence 269–270, this coincided with the Kargil War with Pakistan.[37] In the subsequent October 1999 general election, the BJP-led NDA and its affiliated parties secured a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, winning 299 of 543 seats in the lower house.[38]

Role and power of the Prime Minister change

The Prime Minister is responsible in aiding the President in his/her work relating to the government. The Prime Minister, in consultation with the Cabinet, schedules and attends the sessions of the Houses of Parliament and is required to answer the question from the Members of Parliament.

Some specific ministries/department are not allocated to anyone in the cabinet but the Prime Minister himself. The Prime Minister is usually always in-charge/head of:

  • Appointments Committee of the Cabinet;
  • Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions;
  • Ministry of Planning;
  • Department of Atomic Energy; and
  • Department of Space.

The Prime Minister also represents the country in various international meetings, conferences and organizations.

Selection process change

Eligibility change

A Prime Minister must be:

  • a citizen of India.
  • should be a member of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. If a person elected prime minister is neither a member of the Lok Sabha nor Rajya Sabha, then he must become a member of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha within six months.
  • of above 25 years of age (in the case of a seat in the Lok Sabha) or above 30 years of age (in the case of a seat in the Rajya Sabha).

Oath change

Oath of office:

I, <name>, do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties as prime minister for the Union and that I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

— Constitution of India, Third Schedule, Part I

Oath of secrecy:

I, <name>, do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person or persons any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as Prime Minister for the Union except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as such Minister.

— Constitution of India, Third Schedule, Part II

List of prime ministers change

Living former prime ministers change

As of 8 June 2022, there are two living former prime ministers of India:

References change

  1. Not including Gulzarilal Nanda who served, twice, as acting prime minister.
  1. 1.0 1.1 as per Section 3 of "The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act 1952 and the rules made thereunder" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  2. LIFE. Time Inc. 1964. p. 32.
  3. "India Mourning Nehru, 74, Dead of a Heart Attack; World Leaders Honor Him". The New York Times. 27 May 1964. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  4. Biswas, Soutik (27 August 2009). "Was Mr Shastri murdered?". BBC. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  5. Granville, Austin (2003). Working a democratic constitution: A history of the Indian experience. Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-19-565610-7. OCLC 52992056.
  6. Christophe, Jaffrelot (2003). India's silent revolution: The rise of the lower castes in North India. London: C. Hurst & Co. pp. 131–142. ISBN 978-1-85065-398-1. OCLC 54023168.
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  8. David, Reynolds (2001). One world divisible: a global history since 1945. New York City: W. W. Norton. pp. 244–247. ISBN 978-0-393-32108-1. OCLC 46977934.
  9. Fisher, James F. (1978). Fisher, James F. (ed.). Himalayan Anthropology: The Indo-Tibetan Interface. The Hague: Mouton. p. 225. ISBN 978-3-11-080649-6. OCLC 561996779.
  10. Emma, Tarlo (2001). Unsettling memories: narratives of the emergency in Delhi. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-23120-7. OCLC 46421940.
  11. Jaitley, Arun (5 November 2007). "A tale of three Emergencies: real reason always different". The Indian Express. OCLC 70274541. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  12. Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce (2009). Predictioneer's game: Using the logic of brazen self-interest to see and shape the future (1st ed.). New York City: Random House. pp. xxiii. ISBN 978-0-8129-7977-0. OCLC 290470064.
  13. Sanghvi, Vijay (2006). The Congress, Indira to Sonia Gandhi. Delhi: Kalpaz Publications. pp. 114–122. ISBN 978-81-7835-340-1. OCLC 74972515.
  14. "Indira Gandhi becomes Indian Prime Minister – Jan 19, 1966". History (U.S. TV network). A&E Networks. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
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  20. 20.0 20.1 Crossette, Barbara (2 December 1989). "Indian opposition chooses a premier". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
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  24. Crossette, Barbara (6 November 1990). "Dissidents Split Indian Prime Minister's Party". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
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