(Last Updated on : 25/03/2015)
Indian politics under Jawaharlal Nehru
is an imperative part in the political history of India. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, was not officially selected either by the Congress party organisation or by the Congress party in Parliament. He was basically the natural choice as the acknowledged leader of the Congress and the nominated political heir of Mahatma Gandhi
. Nonetheless, the party organisation in the early years after Independence was dominated by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was also the most influential minister in the Cabinet after Nehru and recognised as Nehru's equal in all other respects. After the awe inspiring victory of the Indian National Congress
under Nehru's leadership in the 1952 elections, there was no longer any doubt about Nehru's pre-eminence in the party and the government and he remained the unchallenged leader of both until his death in 1964.
Nehru's individuality, attitudes, and style of leadership influenced strongly all aspects of the functioning of the Indian political system during the period of his governance. Nehru asserted proficiently and decisively the primacy of the office of Prime Minister against challenges from the President and from the Congress organisation. He was resolute also that the Indian National Congress
should rule the country and achieve power not only in Delhi
but in all the Indian states.
In a few cases, the achievement of that goal involved substantial political manipulation and the use of the power of the central government to challenge the positions of opposition parties and dissident Congress factions in states such as Punjab
. However, from the position of strength which Nehru established for the Congress, he then acted liberally toward most opposition parties and their leaders.
During the Nehru period, state and central politics were for the most part autonomous, though the central leadership of the Congress, known as the High Command, often played arbitrating and intervening roles between competing sections in the state Congress parties. Moreover, under Nehru, a strong central government coexisted with strong states and dominant state leaders in a mutual bargaining situation in which ultimate authority existed in Delhi
. Nehru and his Cabinet also exercised firm control over both the civilian and military bureaucracies. Although the influential civil service established by the British was maintained, Nehru and his principal ministers provided clear and rigid policy guidance. In the same way, the domination of civilian control over the military also was strongly asserted.
Finally, Nehru articulated a clear set of ideological and policy goals, which included a commitment to a non dogmatic form of socialism, to secularism, economic development through state-directed planning, and non alignment in international affairs. Success in achieving definite policies included under these broad goals was often restricted, but they provided always a lucid social and economic orientation, direction, and unity in state policies. Toward the end of Nehru's life, the central party organisation, with Nehru's acquiescence, re emerged as a powerful force, primarily in support of Nehru's own aspiration to gain firmer control of both party organisation and government in all the states of the Union.