Prime Minister of India

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The Prime Minister of India is, in practice, the most powerful person in the government of India. The Prime Minister is technically outranked by the President of India, but because the President's duties are largely ceremonial, the Prime Minister has effective responsibility for government.

India follows a parliamentary system of government, modelled after that of the United Kingdom. In this system, the Prime Minister is generally the leader of a party (or coalition of parties) that can gain a majority in the lower house (Lok Sabha) of the Parliament of India. The Prime Minister either has to be a current member of one of the houses of Parliament, or be elected within six months of being appointed.


Appointment of the Prime Minister

Formally, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The President invites only that person to be the Prime Minister who is leader of the majority party in th Lok Sabha. But when no single party gets the majority, the president may invite the leader of a combination of parties constituting the majority in the Lok Sabha or the leader of the single largest party commanding the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha.

Powers and Functions

The Prime Minister selects the members of the Council of Ministers who are formally appointed by the President. He allocates portfolios among the ministers and he can drop any minister. The Prime Minister presides over the meetings of the Council of Ministers. He decides the policies of the government. He coordinates the work of different ministries and soves inter - departmental conflicts. The Prime Minister is the Chairperson of the Planning Commission which is a key body in the process of planning.

The Prime Minister advises the President on all important matters like appointments judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court, Chief Election Commissioner, Comptroller and Auditor General. He also advises the President on the summoning and proroguing of the Parliament, the dissolving of the Lok Sabha and the declaration of emergencies.

Prime Ministers through the years

There have been twelve people who have served as Prime Minister of India. Jawaharlal Nehru served for four terms (1947-1952, 1952-1957, 1957-1962, and 1962-1964). Indira Gandhi served three terms (1966-1971, 1971-1977, and 1980-1984) and Atal Behari Vajpayee served on two separate occasions (1996, 1998-2004). Gulzari Lal Nanda served as acting Prime Minister during two transition periods, but is generally not counted as a Prime Minister in his own right.

The early years were dominated by the Indian National Congress party, which held the premiership for the first thirty years of India's independence. Morarji Desai became the first non-Congress Prime Minister in 1977. Atal Behari Vajpayee of the Bharatiya Janata Party became that party's first Prime Minister in 1996, and was later returned to power in 1998. The 2004 elections to the Lok Sabha returned the Congress back to power, and Dr. Manmohan Singh was named the Prime Minister-designate on 19 May 2004 after party president Sonia Gandhi declined the post. He was sworn in on May 22, 2004. Singh, a member of the Sikh faith, is the first non-Hindu Prime Minister of India.

The official residence of the Prime Minister of India is 7 Race Course Road.

List of Prime Ministers of India

Key: INC
Indian National Congress
Janata Party
Janata Dal
Bharatiya Janata Party
No. Name Took Office Left Office Party
01 Jawaharlal Nehru Aug 15, 1947 May 27, 1964 Indian National Congress
* Gulzarilal Nanda May 27, 1964 Jun 09, 1964 Indian National Congress
02 Lal Bahadur Shastri Jun 09, 1964 Jan 11, 1966 Indian National Congress
* Gulzarilal Nanda Jan 11, 1966 Jan 24, 1966 Indian National Congress
03 Indira Gandhi Jan 24, 1966 Mar 24, 1977 Indian National Congress
04 Morarji Desai Mar 24, 1977 Jul 28, 1979 Janata Party
05 Choudhary Charan Singh Jul 28, 1979 Jan 14, 1980 Janata Party
** Indira Gandhi Jan 14, 1980 Oct 31, 1984 Indian National Congress
06 Rajiv Gandhi Oct 31, 1984 Dec 02, 1989 Congress I***
07 Vishwanath Pratap Singh Dec 02, 1989 Nov 10, 1990 Janata Dal
08 Chandra Shekhar Nov 10, 1990 Jun 21, 1991 Janata Dal
09 P. V. Narasimha Rao Jun 21, 1991 May 16, 1996 Congress I
10 Atal Behari Vajpayee May 16, 1996 Jun 01, 1996 Bharatiya Janata Party
11 H. D. Deve Gowda Jun 01, 1996 Apr 21, 1997 Janata Dal
12 Inder Kumar Gujral Apr 21, 1997 Mar 19, 1998 Janata Dal
** Atal Behari Vajpayee Mar 19, 1998 May 22, 2004 Bharatiya Janata Party
13 Dr. Manmohan Singh May 22, 2004 In Office Congress I
Key: INC
Indian National Congress
Janata Party
Janata Dal
Bharatiya Janata Party

* acting
** resumed office
*** Indian National Congress became Congress I ( I for Indira)

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