Nehru-Gandhi family

Nehru-Gandhi family

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The Nehru–Gandhi family or Nehru - Feroze Gandhi family is an India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n political family which has been dominant in the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 for most of India's history since independence. (Despite a similarity in name, Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

 is not a member of this family.)

Three members of the family (Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

, his daughter Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 and her son Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India . He took office after his mother's assassination on 31 October 1984; he himself was assassinated on 21 May 1991. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India when he took office at the age of 40.Rajiv Gandhi was the elder son of Indira...

) have been Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

, the latter two of which have been assassinated. A fourth member of the family, Rajiv's widow Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi is an Italian-born Indian politician and the President of the Indian National Congress, one of the major political parties of India. She is the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi...

, is currently Congress President
Congress President
The President of the All India Congress Committee, and therefore of the Indian National Congress Party as a whole, is known as the Congress President.-History:...

. Rajiv and Sonia's son, Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi is an Indian politician and member of the parliament of India, representing the Amethi constituency. His political party is the Indian National Congress.-Early life and career:...

, is a member of Parliament and General Secretary of the Congress Party. Maneka Gandhi
Maneka Gandhi
Maneka Gandhi is an Indian politician, animal rights activist, environmentalist, former model and widow of the Indian politician, Sanjay Gandhi. She has been a minister in four governments, and has authored a number of books in the areas of etymology, law and animal welfare...

, wife of Indira Gandhi's second son Sanjay Gandhi
Sanjay Gandhi
Sanjay Gandhi was an Indian politician. The younger son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi, he was a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family...

, who lost his life in a plane crash, and their son, Varun Gandhi
Varun Gandhi
Feroze Varun Gandhi is an Indian politician and a Member of Parliament , a member of the 15th Lok Sabha. He is the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi and belongs to the Gandhi-Nehru family. He is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive and the youngest National...

, are current members of Parliament, though they are members of Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party ,; translation: Indian People's Party) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in the parliament...

, which is the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

, main political opponent of Congress.

Incomplete family tree


Origins


Nehrus originally from Kashmir, settled in Delhi in the beginning of 18th century, where Motilal Nehru
Motilal Nehru
Motilal Nehru was an early Indian independence activist and leader of the Indian National Congress, who remained Congress President twice, and...

's grandfather, Lakshmi Narayan, became the first lawyer (Vakil) of the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 at the shadow court of Emperor of Delhi. 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
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

 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.

The Nehru family has connection with Allahabad
Allahabad
Allahabad , or Settled by God in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughals from the ancient name of Prayaga , and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,...

 city of present day Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

 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
Kashmiri Pandit
The Kashmiri Pandits are a Hindu Brahmin community originating from Kashmir, a mountainous region in South Asia.-Background:The Hindu caste system of the region was influenced by the influx of Buddhism from the time of Asoka, around the third century BCE, and a consequence of this was that the...

 descent. The name "Nehru" is derived from the Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

 "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.

The family's political fortunes were founded by Motilal Nehru
Motilal Nehru
Motilal Nehru was an early Indian independence activist and leader of the Indian National Congress, who remained Congress President twice, and...

 (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
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

 (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
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

.

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
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit was an Indian diplomat and politician, the sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, the aunt of Indira Gandhi and the great-aunt of Rajiv Gandhi, all of whom served as Prime Minister of India.In 1921 she married Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, who died on 14 January 1944...

 (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
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 in 1953.

Nehru encouraged his only child, Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 (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
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Lal Bahadur Srivastava Shastri was the second Prime Minister of the Republic of India and a significant figure in the Indian independence movement.-Early life:...

, she became Prime Minister, holding the position until her defeat in the 1977 elections. During her Prime Ministership her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi
Sanjay Gandhi
Sanjay Gandhi was an Indian politician. The younger son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi, he was a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family...

 (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
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 population demanding independence. Many youths had radicalized and adopted militant means to attain their demand for an independent state (which they called Khalistan
Khalistan
Khalistan refers to a global political secessionist movement to create a separate Sikh state, called Khālistān , carved out of parts mostly consisting of the Punjab region of India, depending on definition....

). Gandhi ordered the army to storm the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 religion's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, on 6 June 1984, to flush out radical leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was the leader of the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh religious group based in India, who supported implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. In 1981, Bhindranwale was arrested for his suspected involvement in the murder of Jagat Narain, the proprietor of the Hind...

 and his supporters. The army operation, titled Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star ) 3– 6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation, ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar...

, resulted in heavy exchange of fire and extensive damage to the temple, including the sanctum sanctorum (Akal Takht
Akal Takht
The Akal Takht of the Timeless One or Seat of God. It is one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs equivalent to any parliament of world sovereign country. Akal means The Timeless One - another term for God. Takht means 'seat' or 'throne' in Persian...

. 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
Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India . He took office after his mother's assassination on 31 October 1984; he himself was assassinated on 21 May 1991. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India when he took office at the age of 40.Rajiv Gandhi was the elder son of Indira...

 (1984–91), 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
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

 (LTTE). In 1987, he had authorized an Indian Peace Keeping Force
Indian Peace Keeping Force
Indian Peace Keeping Force was the Indian military contingent performing a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990...

 to be sent to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 to fight the LTTE. He was survived by his widow Sonia
Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi is an Italian-born Indian politician and the President of the Indian National Congress, one of the major political parties of India. She is the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi...

, and two children, Rahul
Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi is an Indian politician and member of the parliament of India, representing the Amethi constituency. His political party is the Indian National Congress.-Early life and career:...

 and Priyanka
Priyanka Gandhi
Priyanka Vadra , is an Indian politician. She is the granddaughter of Feroze Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, and belongs tothe Nehru-Gandhi family.-Early life:...

.

Sanjay's legacy


Sanjay Gandhi's widow Maneka
Maneka Gandhi
Maneka Gandhi is an Indian politician, animal rights activist, environmentalist, former model and widow of the Indian politician, Sanjay Gandhi. She has been a minister in four governments, and has authored a number of books in the areas of etymology, law and animal welfare...

 and their son Varun
Varun Gandhi
Feroze Varun Gandhi is an Indian politician and a Member of Parliament , a member of the 15th Lok Sabha. He is the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi and belongs to the Gandhi-Nehru family. He is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive and the youngest National...

 were excluded from power in the Congress after Sanjay's death, and are now members of the Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party ,; translation: Indian People's Party) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in the parliament...

 (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
Janata Dal
Janata Dal is an Indian political party which was formed through the merger of Janata Party factions, the Lok Dal, Congress, and the Jan Morcha led by V. P...

 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
Varun Gandhi
Feroze Varun Gandhi is an Indian politician and a Member of Parliament , a member of the 15th Lok Sabha. He is the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi and belongs to the Gandhi-Nehru family. He is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive and the youngest National...

. 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
Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha or House of the People is the lower house of the Parliament of India. Members of the Lok Sabha are elected by direct election under universal adult suffrage. As of 2009, there have been fifteen Lok Sabhas elected by the people of India...

 election, Varun Gandhi
Varun Gandhi
Feroze Varun Gandhi is an Indian politician and a Member of Parliament , a member of the 15th Lok Sabha. He is the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi and belongs to the Gandhi-Nehru family. He is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive and the youngest National...

 elected as a MP from Pilibhit
Pilibhit
Pilibhit |Hafizabad]]) is a city and a municipal board in the Pilibhit district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Pilibhit is the north-eastern most district of Bareilly division, situated in the Rohilkhand region of the sub-Himalayan Plateau belt on the boundary of Nepal, known for the origin...

 seat of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

.

The rise of Sonia Gandhi


Arun Nehru
Arun Nehru
Arun Nehru is an Indian politician and columnist. In the 1980s he was the chief strategist for his cousin Rajiv Gandhi and a minister in his government, but owing to ideological differences defected with V.P. Singh to the Janata Dal. Presently he is politically more close to BJP...

, 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
Janata Dal
Janata Dal is an Indian political party which was formed through the merger of Janata Party factions, the Lok Dal, Congress, and the Jan Morcha led by V. P...

.

After Rajiv Gandhi's death, the Congress was led by P. V. Narasimha Rao
P. V. Narasimha Rao
Pamulaparti Venkata "Narasimha Rao" was the ninth Prime Minister of India . He led an important administration, overseeing a major economic transformation and several home incidents affecting national security of India. Rao accelerated the dismantling of the Licence Raj. He is often referred to as...

, who became Prime Minister. After his defeat in India's 1996 General Elections, the power in the Congress party shifted to Sitaram Kesri
Sitaram Kesri
Sitaram Kesri was elected to the Lok Sabha from Katihar Lok Sabha Constituency when he won on a janata party ticket and was given a last moment call by then Bihar Janata Party President S N Sinha; he represented Bihar in the Rajya Sabha several times: July 1971 to April 1974, April 1974 to April...

, 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
Indian general election, 2004
Legislative elections were held in India in four phases between April 20 and May 10, 2004. Over 670 million people were eligible to vote, electing 543 members of the 14th Lok Sabha...

, 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
Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh is the 13th and current Prime Minister of India. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. A Sikh, he is the first non-Hindu to occupy the office. Singh is also the 7th Prime Minister belonging to the Indian...

. At these elections Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi is an Indian politician and member of the parliament of India, representing the Amethi constituency. His political party is the Indian National Congress.-Early life and career:...

 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
Priyanka Gandhi
Priyanka Vadra , is an Indian politician. She is the granddaughter of Feroze Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, and belongs tothe Nehru-Gandhi family.-Early life:...

, 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.

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