Chandra Shekhar


Chandra Shekhar
Chandra Shekhar Singh
Chandra Shekhar on 2010 stamp of India
8th Prime Minister of India
In office
10 November 1990 (1990-11-10) – 21 June 1991 (1991-06-21)
PresidentR. Venkataraman
DeputyChaudhary Devi Lal
Preceded byV. P. Singh
Succeeded byP. V. Narasimha Rao
President of the Janata Party
In office
1977 (1977)–1988 (1988)
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
1989 (1989)–2007 (2007)
Preceded byJagannath Chowdhary
Succeeded byNeeraj Shekhar
In office
1977 (1977)–1984 (1984)
Preceded byChandrika Prasad
Succeeded byJagannath Chowdhary
Personal details
Born(1927-07-01)1 July 1927
Ibrahimpatti, Ballia, United Provinces, British India
(now in Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died8 July 2007(2007-07-08) (aged 80)
New Delhi, India
Political partySamajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya)
(1990 – 2007)
Other political
Spouse(s)Duja Devi
Children2 (incl. Neeraj Shekhar)
Alma materAllahabad University

Chandra Shekhar Singh (1 July 1927 – 8 July 2007) was an Indian politician who served as the 8th Prime Minister of India, between 10 November 1990 and 21 June 1991. He headed a minority government of a breakaway faction of the Janata Dal with outside support from the Indian National Congress.[1] He is the first Indian Prime Minister who has never held any Government office.[2] His government was largely seen as a "puppet"[3][4] and "lame duck" and the government was formed with the fewest party MPs in the Lok Sabha.[5][6] His government could not pass the budget[7] at a crucial time when Moody had downgraded India and it further went down after the budget was not passed and global credit-rating agencies further downgraded India from investment grade making it impossible to even get short-term loans and in no position to give any commitment to reform, the World Bank and IMF stopped their assistance. Chandrasekhar had to authorise mortgaging of gold to avoid default of payment and this action came in for particular criticism as it was done secretly in the midst of the election.[8][9][10] The Indian economic crisis, 1991, and the Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi plunged his government into crisis.

Personal life

Early years and Education

Chandra Shekhar Singh was born on 1 July 1927 in a Rajput family at Ibrahimpatti, a village in Uttar Pradesh. He came from a poor farming family.[11][12] He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (graduate) degree at Satish Chandra P.G. College. He attended Allahabad University, obtaining his master's degree in political science in 1950.[13] He was known as a firebrand in student politics and started his political career with Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia. After he had completed his graduation, he became active in socialist politics.[14][15]


He married Duja Devi.[16] He is succeeded by 2 sons, Pankaj Shekhar Singh (elder) and Neeraj Shekhar (younger); and a grandson, Shashank Shekhar (s/o Pankaj).

Political life

Start of career

He joined the socialist movement and was elected secretary of the district Praja Socialist Party (PSP), Ballia. Within a year, he was elected joint secretary of the PSP's State unit in Uttar Pradesh. In 1955–56, he took over as general secretary of the party in the State. His career as a parliamentarian began with his election to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in 1962. He came under the spell of Acharya Narendra Dev, a fiery Socialist leader at the beginning of his political career. From 1962 to 1977, Shekhar was a member of Rajya Sabha, the Upper house of the Parliament of India. He was elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh on 3 April 1962 as an independent candidate and completed his tenure on 2 April 1968. After this, he was re-elected twice to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh as an INC candidate from 3 April 1968 to 2 April 1974 and from 3 April 1974 to 2 April 1980. He resigned from Rajya Sabha on 2 March 1977 after he had been elected to Lok Sabha from Ballia. When the emergency was declared, even though he was a Congress party politician, he was arrested and sent to Patiala jail.[17] He went on a nationwide padayatra in 1983 to know the country better, which he claimed gave jitters to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was called a "Young Turk".

Join Congress

Chandra Shekhar was a prominent leader of the socialists. He joined Congress in 1964. From 1962 to 1967, he was a member of the Rajya Sabha. He first entered the Lok Sabha in 1977. He came to be known as a 'young Turk' for his conviction and courage in the fight against the vested interests. The other 'young Turks', who formed the 'ginger group' in the Congress in the fight for egalitarian policies, included[18] leaders like Feroze Gandhi, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Mohan Dharia and Ram Dhan. As a member of the Congress Party, he vehemently criticised Indira Gandhi for her declaration of emergency in 1975. Chandrashekhar was arrested during the emergency and sent to prison along with other "young turks".[19]

In Janata Party

Chandrasekhar was jailed during the emergency and after, he became the President of Janata Party. In the parliamentary elections, Janata Party formed the government after the 1977 Indian general election headed by Morarji Desai. However the party lost the 1980 elections and were routed in 1984 Indian general election winning just 10 seats and Chandrasekhar losing his own Ballia seat to Jagannath Chowdhary.[20]

In 1988, his party merged with other parties and formed the government under the leadership of V.P. Singh. Again his relationship with the coalition deteriorated and he formed another party, Janata Dal socialist faction. With the support of Congress (I) headed by Rajiv Gandhi, he replaced V.P. Singh as the Prime Minister of India in November 1990. After 1977, he was elected to Lok Sabha in all the elections, except in 1984 when the Congress swept the polls after Indira Gandhi's assassination. The post of Prime Minister, which he thought he genuinely deserved, eluded him in 1989 when V. P. Singh pipped him at the post and was chosen to head the first coalition government at the centre.

Deposing V. P. Singh

Chandra Shekhar seized the moment and left the Janata Dal with several of his own supporters to form the Samajwadi Janata Party/Janata Dal (Socialist).[21] He won a confidence motion with the support of his 64 MPs and Rajiv Gandhi, the leader of the Opposition, and was sworn in as Prime Minister.[22] Eight Janata Dal MPs who voted for this motion were disqualified by the speaker Rabi Ray.[citation needed]

In Parliament

Chandra Shekhar was a member of Rajya Sabha from 1962 to 1977, 1962 to 1968 as an independent supported by Socialist Party and later as member of Congress. He was jailed during the Emergency. After his release from jail in 1977, he joined Janata Party. He was elected to Lok Sabha from Ballia (Lok Sabha constituency) as a member of various incarnations of Janata Party in 1977, 1980, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2004. He lost that seat only once in that span, in 1984 election. After his death, his son Neeraj Shekhar won the ensuing bye-poll in 2008.

Other Ministries

Minister of Information and Broadcasting (1990-1991)

Chandra Shekhar remained the Minister of Information and Broadcasting from 21 November 1990 to 21 June 1991 from Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya) and at that time he was himself the Prime Minister of India.[23] He was preceded to V. P. Singh and succeeded P. V. Narasimha Rao to the position after he resigned from the position of Prime Minister due to lose of support of the alliances.[24]

Minister of Home Affairs (1990-1991)

Same as like the Minister of I and B, he remained Minister of Home Affairs for the timeperiod of 7 months. He was himself the Prime Minister at that time and was preceded to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and succeeded Shankarrao Chavan of Indian National Congress.[25]

Minister of Defence (1990-1991)

Along with Ministry of Home Affairs and Information and Broadcasting, he also handled Ministry of Defence under him as the Prime Minister of India. He was Minister of Defence for a very short time of 7 months and didn't present the Defence budget.[26] He was preceded to V. P. Singh and succeeded P. V. Narasimha Rao as the Minister of Defence.[27]

Prime Minister

Chandra Shekhar was prime minister for seven months, the second shortest period after that of Charan Singh. He also handled the portfolios of Defence and Home Affairs during this period. However, his government could not introduce a full budget because on 6 March 1991 Congress withdrew support during its formulation.[26] As a result, Chandra Shekhar resigned the office of the prime minister on the same day.[28]

According to an article published in ThePrint on 7 August 2020 Roderick Mathews writes that PM Chandra Shekhar had almost resolved the Ayodhya issue, facilitating an agreement between the two sides - the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (RJN) and the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC). The proposal was presented to Rajiv Gandhi, the leader of opposition, who did not approve of it, and as we know Congress Party withdrew its support bringing down Chandra Shekhar Government.[29]


After handing the premiership to P. V. Narasimha Rao, Chandra Shekar's political importance was reduced, although he was able to retain his seat in the Lok Sabha for many years afterward. He established Bharat Yatra Centres in various parts of the country and set up a trust in Bhondsi village in Haryana's Gurgaon to focus on rural development.


Chandra Shekhar died on 8 July 2007, 7 days after his 80th birthday. He had been suffering with multiple myeloma for some time and had been in the Apollo Hospital at New Delhi since May. He was survived by two sons.[30]

Politicians from across the spectrum of Indian parties paid tribute to him[31] and the government of India declared seven days of state mourning.[30] He was cremated with full state honours on a traditional funeral pyre at Jannayak Sthal,[32] on the banks of the river Yamuna, on 10 July.[33] In August, his ashes were immersed in the river Siruvani.[34]


  1. ^ "Rival of Singh Becomes India Premier". Sanjoy Hazarika. The New York Times. 10 November 1990. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Socialist Is Installed as India's Eleventh Prime Minister". Sanjoy Hazarika. The New York Times. 11 November 1990. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  3. ^ The Working Class. Centre of Indian Trade Unions. 1990. p. 86. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  4. ^ Puppet on a String. Far Eastern Economic Review. October 1990. p. 6.
  5. ^ "Chandra Shekhar exploits fears, weaknesses of Congress(I) and Janata Dal(S)". Inderjit Badhwar,.Prabhu Chawla. India Today. 15 December 1990. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  6. ^ The Interim Man. The Economist. 1990. p. 42.
  7. ^ "1991, the untold story". Yashwant Sinha. The Hindu. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  8. ^ "How the economy found its feet". Deepak Nayar. The Hindu. 18 October 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  9. ^ "In fact: How govts pledged gold to pull economy back from the brink". Shaji Vikraman. The Indian Express. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  10. ^ Stuart Corbridge; John Harriss (28 May 2013). Reinventing India: Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and Popular Democracy. Wiley. pp. 144–. ISBN 978-0-7456-6604-4. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  11. ^ Chand, Attar (1991). The Long March: Profile of Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. Mittal. p. 59. ISBN 978-8-17099-272-1.
  12. ^ Ghai, Rajat (7 May 2014). "The office of Prime Minister: A largely north Indian upper-caste, Hindu affair". Business Standard India. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  13. ^ Dubey, Scharada (2009). Movers and Shakers Prime Minister of India. Westland. ISBN 9788189975548. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  14. ^ The rise of Socialist politics under Chandra Shekhar. In the Janata-coalition government that came to power in the aftermath of that election, Chandra Shekhar willingly gave up his claim to a Cabinet ministerial role that he was offered in favour of his fellow-Young Turk Mohan Dharia. That was just one instance of Chandra Shekhar’s deep commitment and loyalty towards his friends which is a recurring theme in the book. A rare occurrence in an opportunistic political world—Chandra Shekhar was also upright and forthright, not prone to hypocrisy like the commonplace politicians. Sometimes his straight talk stunned even seasoned politicians like Ram Manohar Lohia and Indira Gandhi.
  15. ^ "Buy Chandra Shekhar :The Last Icon of Ideological Politics Book at 32% off". Paytm Mall. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  16. ^ Chand, Attar (1991). The Long March: Profile of Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. Mittal. p. 13. ISBN 978-8-17099-272-1.
  17. ^ Movers and Shakers Prime Minister of India by Scharada Dubey – 2009 During the emergency, Chandra Shekhar was among the very few individuals from the ruling Congress party to be sent to jail.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 May 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ Kapoor, Coomi (2015). The Emergency: A Personal History, Chapter 4. Penguin/Viking. ISBN 9789352141197.
  20. ^ "General Elections, 1984 - Constituency Wise Detailed Results" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  21. ^ Dissidents Split Indian Prime Minister's Party. New York Times. (6 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  22. ^ Rival of Singh Becomes India Premier. New York Times. (10 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  23. ^ "MIB".
  24. ^ "Who's Who | Ministry of Information and Broadcasting | Government of India". Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  25. ^ Minister of Home Affairs (India)
  26. ^ a b "Chandra Shekhar | prime minister of India". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  27. ^ Minister of Defence (India)
  28. ^ "Chandra Shekhar critical". The Hindu. 8 July 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  29. ^ Matthews, Roderick (7 August 2020). "Chandra Shekhar had 'solved' Ayodhya issue. But 'petty' Rajiv Gandhi brought his govt down". ThePrint. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  30. ^ a b "Chandra Shekhar dead". The Hindu. 9 July 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  31. ^ "Leaders mourn Chandra Shekhar's death". The Hindu. 9 July 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  32. ^ "Former PM Chandrashekhar's samadhi to be called Jannayak Sthal". The Times of India.
  33. ^ "Dignitaries bid adieu to Chandra Shekhar". The Hindu. 10 July 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  34. ^ "Chandra Shekhar's ashes immersed in Siruvani". The Hindu. 13 August 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2014.

Further reading

  • Khare, Harish (9 July 2007). "The quintessential Congressman". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  • Chand, Attar (1991). The Long March: Profile of Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. Mittal Publications. ISBN 978-8-17099-272-1.
  • "The State As Charade: V.P. Singh, Chandr Shekhar and the Rest" by Arun Shourie, Publisher: South Asia Books

External links

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of India
Succeeded by
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Home Affairs
Succeeded by