(Last Updated on : 25/07/2012)
Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India after nation gained independence. Nehru and his colleagues had been released as the British Cabinet Mission arrived to propose plans for transfer of power. Swearing in of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister
of free India by Lord Mountbatten
was held on 15 August 1947.
Once he was elected, Nehru headed a provisional government which was impaired by outbreaks of communal violence and political disorder, and the opposition of the Muslim League
led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah
, who was demanding a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. After several failed bids to form the coalitions, Nehru reluctantly supported the partition of India, according to a plan released by the British on 3 June 1947. He took office as the Prime Minister of India on 15 August.
On 30th January 1948, Mahatma Gandhi - Father of the Nation was shot while he was walking to a platform from which he was to address a prayer meeting. Nathuram Godse - the assassin was a Hindu nationalist with links to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha
, who held Gandhi responsible for weakening India by insisting upon a payment to Pakistan. After the assassination, Prime Minister
Nehru addressed the nation via radio where he said;
"Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country."
With the death of Mahatma Gandhi
, the entire authority of India came under Nehru and Patel. After the death of Gandhi Indian National Congress
controlled the epic public display of emotion and grief over two week period - the funeral, mortuary rituals and distribution of the martyr's ashes-as millions participated and hundreds of millions watched. The primary goal was to assert the power of the governance, legitimize the Congress party's control and suppress all religious para-military groups. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
and Nehru suppressed the RSS the Muslim National Guards, and Khaksars, with some 200,000 arrests. Death of Gandhi and funeral linked the distant state with the Indian people and made more understand the need to suppress religious parties during the transition to independence for the Indian people.
In the later years there also emerged a revisionist school of history which sought to blame Nehru for the partition of India
, mostly referring to his highly centralised policies for an independent India in 1947, which Mohammad Ali Jinnah
opposed in favour of a more decentralised India. Such views have been promoted by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP
), which favours a decentralized central Government of India
In the years following independence, Jawaharlal Nehru
frequently turned to his daughter Indira Gandhi to look after him and manage his personal affairs. Under his leadership, the Congress won an overwhelming majority in the elections of 1952. Indira Gandhi
moved into Nehru's official residence to attend to him and became his constant companion in his travels across India and the world. Indira would virtually become Nehru's chief of staff.