Prime Minister of India
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 head of state, the President of India. But, as is typical in most parliamentary democracies, because the head of state's duties are largely ceremonial, the Prime Minister has effective responsibility for government. Given India's rise as a global power in the 21st century, the Indian Prime Minister has emerged as an important leader on the world stage.
India follows a parliamentary system of government, which is 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 has a majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house) 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 the Lok Sabha. But when no single party enjoys a 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. However, that said; the president's role is limited in the election of the prime minister. While he is obligated to invite the leader/coalition leader of the majority party, he cannot elect a prime minister who has failed to win majority.
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 solves 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.
He is a link between the President and the Cabinet.
Prime Ministers through the years
Fourteen individuals 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 times (1966-1971, 1971-1977, and 1980-1984), and Atal Behari Vajpayee served on three occasions (1996, 1998-1999, 1999-2004). 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. In December 1989 V P Singh of the Janata Dal became the first prime minister of that party. In 1996, Atal Behari Vajpayee of the Bharatiya Janata Party became the first person from that party to become Prime Minister. He was again returned to power in 1998 and then in 1999. 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. He was sworn in on May 22, 2004. Singh is the first Sikh Prime Minister of India. He is also the only Prime Minister who has never been elected to the Lok Sabha.
Four out of the 13 prime ministers were born in Allahabad; the University of Allahabad has produced three prime ministers; and two prime ministers represented Allahabad as MPs. Thus, the city of Allahabad in some way or other has produced eight prime ministers out of the 14 (including the one acting prime minister). Seven out of the 13 prime ministers were born in Uttar Pradesh; nine prime ministers studied in Uttar Pradesh; and ten prime ministers represented constituencies in Uttar Pradesh as MPs. Thus the state of Uttar Pradesh in some way or other has produced nine prime ministers out of the 14.
The official residence of the Prime Minister of India is 7 Race Course Road. Some prime ministers have chosen to use part of their official residence as their office too, in other words, 7 RCR has functioned as the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) on several occasion in the past. The incumbent prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh's PMO is located at South Block and not at 7 RCR.