- Sunil Rajguru
First Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was a Kashmiri Pandit who stood in the Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh. His descendants who became PMs (Indira and Rajiv Gandhi) also contested from UP. In fact UP has a stranglehold producing PMs Lal Bahadur Shastri, Charan Singh, VP Singh, Chandra Shekhar and AB Vajpayee (who also had a Gwalior connection).
Gujarat produced two PMs - Morarji Desai and Narendra Modi - and two Deputy PMs, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and LK Advani. Mohammed Ali Jinnah also had a Gujarati background. So the fathers of the nation of both India (Mahatma Gandhi) and Jinnah (Pakistan) were from Gujarat. (Modi has retained his Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, so that’s another strike for UP)
PV Narasimha Rao was from Andhra Pradesh and HD Deve Gowda from Karnataka. IK Gujral and Manmohan Singh had a Punjab connect as did acting PM Gulzarilal Nanda. Manmohan was also a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam. Bihar (Jagjivan Ram), Maharashtra (Yashwantrao Chavan) and Haryana (Devi Lal) also produced Dy PMs.
If there's one major name absent from all of the above, then it's West Bengal. That's strange because WB was at the forefront of our freedom struggle and produced a host of revolutionaries. When we got Independence it was the capital of industry, culture and intellect.
But it’s not that West Bengal never came close to producing a PM. It's always been a case of so near and yet so far. A look at their would-be PMs...
1. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Had Bose been luckier, then our first PM would have been a Bengali. He was elected Congress President in 1938 and would have certainly led India to Independence and become PM.
However he was fought tooth and nail by Mahatma Gandhi who didn’t relent even when Bose beat his candidate again in 1939. Bose gracefully withdrew. Did Bose die or disappear in 1945? We may never know but the result is that he wasn’t around in public view in 1947.
Bose was a good seven years younger to Nehru and either would have made PM in 1947, or he would have well succeeded Nehru later on.
Image: Portrait - Subhas Chandra Bose in 1941 (AFP)
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