Nehru–Gandhi family

Nehru–Gandhi family
Nehru-Gandhi family
Ethnicity Mixed ethnicity
Current region India New Delhi, India
Notable members Motilal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Indira Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
Sanjay Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi
Maneka Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi
Varun Gandhi

The Nehru–Gandhi family or Nehru - Feroze Gandhi family is an Indian political family which has been dominant in the Indian National Congress for most of India's history since independence. (Despite a similarity in name, Mahatma Gandhi is not a member of this family.)

Three members of the family (Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi) have been Prime Minister of India, the latter two of which have been assassinated. A fourth member of the family, Rajiv's widow Sonia Gandhi, is currently Congress President. Rajiv and Sonia's son, Rahul Gandhi, is a member of Parliament and General Secretary of the Congress Party. Maneka Gandhi, wife of Indira Gandhi's second son Sanjay Gandhi, who lost his life in a plane crash, and their son, Varun Gandhi, are current members of Parliament, though they are members of Bharatiya Janata Party, which is the de facto, main political opponent of Congress.


Incomplete family tree


The family of Motilal Nehru, who is seated in the center. Standing (L to R) Jawaharlal Nehru, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Krishna Hutheesing, Indira Gandhi and Ranjit Pandit; Seated: Swaroop Rani, Motilal Nehru and Kamala Nehru (circa 1927).

Nehrus originally from Kashmir, settled in Delhi in the beginning of 18th century, where Motilal Nehru's grandfather, Lakshmi Narayan, became the first lawyer (Vakil) of the East India Company at the shadow court of Emperor of Delhi. [1]. His son Gangadhar, was a police officer in Delhi in 1857, and during the Mutiny, when the British troops began shelling their way into the city, he fled to Agra along with his wife Jeorani and four children. Gangadhar's eldest son is Bansi Dhar Nehru has worked in the judicial department of the British Government and, being appointed successively to various places, was partly cut off from the rest of the family. The second son, Nand Lal Nehru, entered the service of an Indian State and was Diwan of Khetri State in Ralputana for ten years. Later he studied law and settled down as a practicing lawyer in Agra. [2][3]

The Nehru family has connection with Allahabad city of present day Uttar Pradesh state of India. In Allahabad, Jawaharlal Nehru was born, this is the Constituency he represented in Parliament, and where childhood of Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi and grandchildren Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi was spent. However Nehru's father Motilal Nehru was of Kashmiri Pandit descent. The name "Nehru" is derived from the Hindi "nehar", meaning canal, when the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiar had allotted the land adjacent to a canal or "nehr" to Raj Kaul who originated from Kashmir.[4]

The family's political fortunes were founded by Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), who was a prominent lawyer and early activist in the Indian independence movement. Motilal was succeeded as President of the Congress by his son, Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), in 1929. Jawaharlal then became one of the most prominent Indian nationalist leaders, in close alliance with the movement's spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi.

Rise to power 1947-1991

In 1947, India became independent and Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister, holding this post until his death in 1964. Nehru's sister, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900–1990), was also prominent in Congress politics. She became a diplomat, serving as ambassador to the USSR, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and later as President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1953.

Nehru encouraged his only child, Indira Gandhi (1917–84) to be active in Congress politics. She entered the Cabinet in 1964 when Lal Bahadur Shastri became Prime Minister upon Nehru's death. Then in 1966, following the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, she became Prime Minister, holding the position until her defeat in the 1977 elections. During her Prime Ministership her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi (1946–80), wielded enormous political influence without holding any accountable government office. His alleged abuse of power is cited as one of the reasons for the government's 1977 defeat. Sanjay died in a plane crash in 1980

Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980 and remained in office until her assassination in 1984. The Indian state of Punjab had been in turmoil, with a section of the predominantly Sikh population demanding independence. Many youths had radicalized and adopted militant means to attain their demand for an independent state (which they called Khalistan). Gandhi ordered the army to storm the Sikh religion's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, on 6 June 1984, to flush out radical leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his supporters. The army operation, titled Operation Blue Star, resulted in heavy exchange of fire and extensive damage to the temple, including the sanctum sanctorum (Akal Takht. This caused widespread anger among the Sikh community. Gandhi was killed by two of her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October 1984; the remaining bodyguards killed one of the assassins and captured the other. Her sudden death triggered anti-Sikh riots in many parts of India.

She was succeeded by her elder son, Rajiv Gandhi (1944–91), an airline pilot, who was initially reluctant to enter politics, but was persuaded by the Congress that no-one else could lead it. He was defeated at elections in 1989, but was assassinated in 1991 by a suicide bomber, suspected to be linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In 1987, he had authorized an Indian Peace Keeping Force to be sent to Sri Lanka to fight the LTTE. He was survived by his widow Sonia, and two children, Rahul and [[Priyanka Gandhi|Priyanka

Sanjay's legacy

Sanjay Gandhi's widow Maneka and their son Varun were excluded from power in the Congress after Sanjay's death, and are now members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Maneka fell out with her mother-in-law Indira, following Sanjay's death, and was even thrown out of her home. She joined the opposition Janata Dal and became a Union Minister in the VP Singh Government which followed Rajiv Gandhi's electoral defeat in 1989. She continued to contest from Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh, with a defeat in 1991 and victory in 1996. She left the Janata Dal, and during the 1998 and 1999 elections, contested as an Independent supported by the BJP. She supported the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance Government at the Centre and became a Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. During the 2004 General Elections, she formally joined the BJP along with her son, Varun Gandhi. Maneka won her seat again, but Varun did not meet the age requirement to contest, and spent his time campaigning. In October 2006 Varun Gandhi was tipped to contest the by-elections to the Lok Sabha parliamentary Constituency of Vidisha (the vacancy was necessitated by the resignation of the incumbent, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan who was elected as the Madhya Pradesh chief minister). Varun Gandhi could not succeed in getting nomination from the BJP national executive and instead the party nominated Mr. Rampal Singh a minister in the Madhya Pradesh. In 2009 Lok Sabha election, Varun Gandhi elected as a MP from Pilibhit seat of Uttar Pradesh.

The rise of Sonia Gandhi

Arun Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi's cousin, was Minister for Power and then Minister for Internal Security in Rajiv Gandhi's government, but later defected to the rival Janata Dal.

After Rajiv Gandhi's death, the Congress was led by P. V. Narasimha Rao, who became Prime Minister. After his defeat in India's 1996 General Elections, the power in the Congress party shifted to Sitaram Kesri, an aging loyalist of Indira Gandhi. During this period, Sonia kept herself and her children out of the public limelight, not wanting them to face the fate of her husband and mother-in-law.

The party loyalists always wanted a member of the Nehru- Feroz Gandhi family to lead the party, as its fortunes slipped in elections around the nation. Despite her reluctance, Sonia Gandhi was eventually persuaded to become active in the Congress Party, and she quickly became its center of power, forcing Kesri's resignation and allowing her uncontested ascent to the party's Presidency in 1998.

The following period saw her becoming increasingly visible in politics (She is attributed to engineering the downfall of the Vajpayee government in 1999, in an unsuccessful attempt to install a Congress government). During India's 2004 General Elections, Sonia was projected the Congress's Prime Ministerial candidate, and the party and its allies emerged as the largest group in the Lok Sabha, with the Communist parties supporting the coalition from outside. Initially, every coalition partner and the Communist parties had accepted her as the Prime Minister. The opposition BJP held nationwide protests against a 'foreigner' ascending the Prime Minister's post.

On 18 May 2004, Sonia Gandhi declined the Prime Ministerial position, passing it on to Dr. Manmohan Singh. At these elections Rahul Gandhi was elected to the Parliament for the first time, representing a fifth generation of the family in politics from a traditional Gandhi stronghold, Amethi (Uttar Pradesh). Her daughter, Priyanka Vadra, did not contest the elections, but campaigned for the party. Many Congress leaders and supporters have vocally promoted her future as the party's leader, but she has not accepted a life in active politics, so far.

See also

  • Political families of the world


External links

Motilal Nehru Swaruprani
Kamala Nehru Jawaharlal Nehru Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit Ranjit Sitaram Pandit Krishna Hutheesing Gunottam Hutheesing
Indira Gandhi Feroze Gandhi Nayantara SahgalGita Sehgal Harsha Hutheesing Ajit Hutheesing Helen Armstrong
Rajiv Gandhi Sonia Gandhi Sanjay Gandhi Maneka Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi Priyanka Vadra Robert Vadra Varun Gandhi
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