The list is based on information from:

Color Coding

GREEN is INC or INC led Governments

TURQUOISE are non-INC Governments

RED are BJP or BJP led Governments


Jawaharlal Nehru August 15, 1947 - May 27, 1964

(Indian National Congress (INC), which led the struggle for independence)

Lal Bahadur Shastri June 9, 1964 - January 11, 1966

(INC. Succeeds Nehru after the latter dies of a heart attack)

Indira Gandhi January 24, 1966 - March 24, 1977

( INC. Installed as PM by the "Syndicate" after Shastri's death, in the hope that she would be a malleable leader, and the Syndicate the "power behind the throne) 

Morarji Desai March 24, 1977 - July 28, 1979

(As leader of the JANATA PARTY, a coalition formed to oppose Indira Gandhi during her imposition of the STATE OF EMERGENCY) 

(Differences within the JANATA party lead to the resignation of MORARJI)

Charan Singh July 28, 1979 - January 14, 1980

Indira Gandhi January 14, 1980 - October 31, 1984

(Wins elections in 1979-80 after factional conflicts make the Janata Party unable to stay together)

Rajiv Gandhi October 31, 1984 - December 1, 1989

(Comes to power after the assassination of his mother in 1984) 

Vishwanath Pratap (VP) Singh Dec. 2, 1989 - November 10, 1990

(Wins General Elections in which CORRUPTION, particularly the BOFORS deal, is a major issue. Heads a coalition government led by his party the JANATA DAL)

Chandra Shekhar November 10, 1990 - June 21, 1991

(Inability of the Janata Dal-led coalition to stay together makes him PM. He had temporary support from the INC led by Rajiv Gandhi during his short tenure. Rajiv withdraws support in 1991, and fresh elections are called.)

P.V. Narasimha Rao June 21, 1991 - May 16, 1996 

(Rajiv Gandhi's assassination during the election campaign results in a victory for the INC, and RAO now becomes leader of the party and the PM. Completes his term in office, but loses popularity. The Hindu nationalists, the BHARTIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP) gain support, especially after they make the issue of the mosque in AYODHYA a major campaign issue.)

Atal Behari Vajpayee May 16, 1996 - 1 June 1996

(Elections in 1996 result in a HUNG Parliament, no party or group of parties has an absolute majority. The BJP is the single largest party, and its leader VAJPAYEE is invited to form a government, but cannot muster support in Parliament, is compelled to resign.)

H. D. Deve Gowda 1 June 1996 - 12 April 1997

(A post-election coalition of parties, known as the UNITED FRONT (UF), comes together to try and cobble a majority in Parliament. The UF is composed of parties that want to maintain a distance from the BJP and the INC, and many strong regional parties were an important component. However, the UF government still depends on "outside" support from the INC) 

Inder Kumar Gujral 21 April 1997 - 19 Mar 1998
(The INC objects to some of GOWDA's policies, and threatens to withdraw support if he is not removed. GUJRAL, a former INC member and member of Mrs. Gandhi's Cabinet, but now a leading figure in the UF, takes over as PM.)


Atal Behari Vajpayee 19 March 1998 - April 2004
(INC withdraws support to GUJRAL as well, and a General Election called in 1998, which is won by another coalition, this time led by the BJP, also with the support of important regional parties. VAJPAYEE becomes PM. Break-up of the coalition [with a little help from the INC and other parties!] leads to yet anotherGeneral Election in 1999, which the BJP-led coalition (known as the National Democratic Alliance [NDA]) manages to win. Regional allies rather than the BJP increase their strength in Parliament, while the INC records its worst-ever electoral performance. )

Manmohan Singh  May 2004-2014
(General Elections were called in April 2004 by the ruling NDA coalition, who fully expected another term in office.  Despite a massive campaigning effort based on touting the achievements of the NDA government ("India Shining" had been the slogan in the months leading up to the election) they lost decisively.   Another coalition (called the United Progressive Alliance [UPA]), with the INC as the single largest party, and supported by many regional parties as well as the Indian Communist parties, came to power.  An interesting feature of 2004 was the decision by the leader of the INC, Sonia Gandhi (Rajiv Gandhi's widow) to forego the Prime Minister's position because of fierce opposition of many in the BJP on the grounds that Sonia was not born in India but was an Italian by birth who had much later become a naturalized Indian citizen. 2009 elections were fought and won on the basis of an improving economy and social justice.

Narendra ModiMay 2014 to Current

Modi rose steadily through the ranks of the RSS and the BJP through his political career to become Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat. A controversial figure, accused of having had a hand in a pogrom of Muslims in his state in 2000, Modiís 2014 victory was based on increasing disillusionment with the policies of the INC (widely perceived to be corrupt and ineffective).At the same time, Modiís own personality (a forceful speaker, and decisive, if domineering, leader) was a contrast to Singh and other leaders of the INC.He posed a challenge based on both his personality and his promises/ideology to the leaders of the INC in the elections in spring 2014, promising economic growth and development while ensuring that the Hindu Nationalist core supporters of the BJP were not alienated.

Note: Gulzarilal Nanda was caretaker Prime Minister twice in the 1960s, between Nehru and Shastri, and Shastri and Indira.