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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Gulzari Lal Nanda: The second and shortest-serving Prime Minister

Gulzari Lal Nanda, who represented Gujarat's Sabarkantha constituency in the Lok Sabha, was first sworn as the PM after the death of the first PM Jawaharlal Nehru on May 27, 1964.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: May 19, 2022 8:22:01 am
Gulzari Lal Nanda. (Express archive photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has completed eight years in office, recently hinted that he was ready for a third term. Speaking virtually at a meeting in Bharuch where beneficiaries of various central government schemes were assembled, he said a “very senior” Opposition leader had once asked him what else was left for him to accomplish after becoming the PM twice. Modi said he would not rest till “100 per cent” coverage of government schemes was achieved in the country.

Modi, 71, is first PM so far to be born after Independence. In the course of over seven decades, the country has seen 15 Prime Ministers, over a journey marked with social, political and economic changes. The Indian Express looks at India’s parliamentary democracy through the tenures of its PMs.


Gulzari Lal Nanda, the second Prime Minister of India, has also been the country’s shortest-serving PM. He was sworn in as the PM twice, but in both of his terms he remained the PM only for 13 days.

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Nanda, who represented Gujarat’s Sabarkantha constituency in the Lok Sabha, was first sworn as the PM after the death of the first PM Jawaharlal Nehru on May 27, 1964. Nanda had initially served as the minister for labour and employment in the Nehru Cabinet and was the minister for home affairs at the time of Nehru’s demise. Being the second in command, he was the natural choice for the top post. However, he could continue in his office till June 9, 1964 — the day when Lal Bahadur Shastri took over as the PM.

About one-and-a-half years later, when Shastri passed away at Tashkent on January 11, 1966, Nanda was again sworn in as the PM. But his tenure again proved to be brief as he could serve in his office only till January 24, 1966, when Indira Gandhi became the new PM.

Both of Nanda’s prime ministerial stints ended after the ruling Congress’s Parliamentary Party elected its new leader.

Born on July 4, 1898, in Sialkot (now in Punjab province of Pakistan), Nanda joined the freedom movement soon after becoming a professor of economics at National College (Bombay) in 1921. In the course of his participation in the freedom struggle, he was also sent to jail.

YB Chavan, Gulzari Lal Nanda, and Lal Bahadur Shastri. (Express archive photo)

Nanda had a long experience as an elected representative — first as a legislator and then as a parliamentarian. As per the information available on the PMO website, he was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly in 1937 and was the parliamentary secretary (labour and excise) to the Government of Bombay from 1937 to 1939.

When the country became Independent and the Government of India established the Planning Commission under the then PM Nehru, Nanda served as the plan panel’s vice-chairman.

Nanda represented the Sabarkantha constituency in the first, second and third Lok Sabha.


A look at the tenure of India’s prime ministers.

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