Gulzarilal Nanda

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Gulzarilal Nanda
Gulzarilal Nanda (cropped).jpg
Gulzarilal Nanda
Prime Minister of India
Acting
In office
11 January 1966 – 24 January 1966
President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Preceded by Lal Bahadur Shastri
Succeeded by Indira Gandhi
In office
27 May 1964 – 9 June 1964
President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Preceded by Jawaharlal Nehru
Succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
29 August 1963 – 14 November 1966
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Indira Gandhi
Preceded by Lal Bahadur Shastri
Succeeded by Yashwantrao Chavan
Personal details
Born (1898-07-04)4 July 1898
Sialkot, Punjab, British India
(now in Punjab, Pakistan)
Died 15 January 1998(1998-01-15) (aged 99)
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Political party Indian National Congress
Spouse(s) Lakshmi
Children 2 sons and 1 daughter
Alma mater Allahabad University

Gulzarilal Nanda (4 July 1898 – 15 January 1998)[1][2] was an Indian politician and economist who specialized in labour issues. He was the caretaker 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 a year before his death in 1998.

Early life[edit]

Born[edit]

Nanda was born on 4 July 1898 in Sialkot in the Punjab Province of British India into a Punjabi Hindu family of the Khatri caste. (After the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947, Sialkot became a part of the Punjab Province of Pakistan.) Nanda received his education in Lahore, Amritsar, Agra, and Allahabad.[citation needed]

Research worker[edit]

Nanda worked as a research scholar on labour problems at Allahabad University (1920–1921), and became a Professor of Economics at National College in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1921.[citation needed] The same year, he joined the Indian Non-Cooperation Movement against the British Raj. In 1922, he became secretary of the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association where he worked until 1946. He was imprisoned for Satyagraha in 1932, and again from 1942 to 1944.[citation needed]. He was honored with "Proud Past Alumni" in the list of 42 members, from "Allahabad University Alumni Association", NCR, Ghaziabad (Greater Noida) Chapter 2007–2008 registered under society act 1860 with registration no. 407/2000.[3][4][5]

He married Lakshmi, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.[6]

Members of Assembly and Parliament[edit]

British Raj[edit]

In the British Raj, Nanda was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly in 1937, and served as parliamentary secretary (for Labor and Excise) to the Government of Bombay from 1937 to 1939. As Labour Minister of the Bombay Government during 1946–50, he successfully piloted the Labor Disputes Bill in the state assembly. He served as a Trustee of the Kasturba Memorial Trust. (Kasturba was the wife of Mahatma Gandhi.) He served as secretary of the Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh (Indian Labor Welfare Organization), and Chairman of the Bombay Housing Board. He was a member of the National Planning Committee. He was largely instrumental in organising the Indian National Trade Union Congress, and later became its president.

In 1947, Nanda went to Geneva, Switzerland as a government delegate to the International Labor Conference. He worked on The Freedom of Association Committee of the Conference, and visited Sweden, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the UK to study labour and housing conditions in those countries.

Indian Planning Commission[edit]

In March 1950, Nanda joined the Indian Planning Commission as its vice-chairman. In September 1951, he was appointed Planning Minister in the Indian Government. He was also given charge of the portfolios of Irrigation and Power. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bombay in the general elections of 1952, and was reappointed Minister for Planning, Irrigation, and Power. He led the Indian Delegation to the Plan Consultative Committee held in Singapore in 1955, and the International Labor Conference held in Geneva in 1959.

Lok Sabha member[edit]

Nanda was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1957 elections, and was appointed Union Minister for Labour, Employment and Planning, and later, as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. He visited the Federal Republic of Germany, Yugoslavia, and Austria in 1959.

Nanda was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1962 elections from the Sabarkantha constituency in Gujarat. He initiated the Congress Forum for Socialist Action in 1962. He was Union Minister for Labour and Employment during 1962 – 1963, and Minister for Home Affairs during 1963 – 1966. He was first inducted as Home Minister by Jawaharlal Nehru in his cabinet in 1963,and continued on the post under Lal Bahadur Shastri, and under Smt Indira Gandhi till he resigned in 1966,in protest against firing on protesting Hindu saints, with whom he had been deep in negotiations and was almost on the verge of agreement.

Nanda was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1967 and 1971 elections from the Kaithal (Lok Sabha Constituency) in Haryana.He was Union Minister for Railways 1970 – 1971[7]

Interim Prime Minister[edit]

Nanda was the Prime Minister of India twice for thirteen days each: the first time after the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, and the second time after the death of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966.[8] Both his terms were uneventful, yet they came at sensitive times because of the potential danger to the country following Nehru's death soon after a war with China in 1962 and Shastri's death after a war with Pakistan in 1965.[9] Nanda died on 15 January 1998 at the age of 99.[10] From 25 November 1997, when former Malawi President Hastings Banda died until his own death, Nanda was the world's oldest living former head of state.


His life and Politics[edit]

He was a deeply relegious person and a champion of the most emotive issue for most Hindus,like Gandhiji himself and many congress leaders in independent India- 'Cow protection'.

He was a loyal servant of Jawaharlal Nehru, and trustee of his wish to transfer the mantle safely to his daughter Indira. Upon NEHRU'S death, he was considered saintly enough to become caretaker PM and then vacate the post for the next selected incumbent, which was Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastriji emerged as a very popular leader after 1965 Pakistan war, contrary to his diminutive looks emerged as a very tall leader. He died under suspicious circumstances in Tashkent and many believe he was eliminated by the KGB, for bringing the Pro-Soviet Indira, as desired by Nehru.

Guljarilal Nanda came in handy again as Nehru loyalists choice for a selfless caretaker Prime minister, again for 13 days as his earlier stint. He dutifully handed over the reigns of power to Indira Gandhi, and continued as Home Minister.

When the "ban-cow-slaughter" movement started in to gather steam, Nandaji was deeply involved with the saints spearheading and supporting the movement. He was trusted by the Sanatanis, Arya Samajis, the Akalis, the Shankaracharya of Puri, the Gorakshanath peethadheeshwar, among others. Both sides understood each other,and there was general understanding that the protests would end amicably in grand celebrations, as the parliament would adopt the resolution, that would be presented by Gulzari Lal Nanda.

He would become the darling of the Hindu masses,once cow slaughter was banned and thus repay the debt of his lifelong Gandhian convictions and faith.

He details in his book about his meetings with representatives of the protesters, that there would be no violence, and that the government too would not harm them.

With such an understanding, the crowd consisted of thousands of women, children and toddlers in laps, who were almost coming for a religious congregation, on the holy day of Gopashtami, the festival of Cow Worship.


The ugly turn of events on the 7th of November 1966,where as Nandaji recounts in his book, led to antisocial elements setting houses of K Kamraj among others on fire. Some shops too were set on fire. The Police opened fire on a crowd of lakhs even before he could go out and talk and pacify the crowds. He was aghast to see that they were not the sounds of tear gas shells bursting but real bullets, and bodies of his revered saints were falling all around. He could very well see that things were happening without his command but posterity would find none other to blame than him. He resigned at this massive betrayal of faith of lakhs of Hindus, whose champion he had tried to become in all earnest. Most believe that this was done to fix him, to forever end any threat to Mrs Indira Gandhi.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Minister of Home Affairs
1963–1966
Succeeded by
Yashwantrao Chavan
Preceded by
Jawaharlal Nehru
Prime Minister of India
Acting

1964
Succeeded by
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Chairperson of the Planning Commission
Acting

1964
Minister of External Affairs
1964
Preceded by
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Prime Minister of India
Acting

1966
Succeeded by
Indira Gandhi
Chairperson of the Planning Commission
Acting

1966