When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation for the seventh time from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Saturday on the occasion of the 73rd Independence Day, he will also be reaching two other milestones in his political career. With a total of 2,273 days in the PMO on August 15, Modi becomes the longest-serving non-Congress prime minister of India. The record was earlier held by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who remained in office for 2,272 days. Janata Party’s Morarji Desai is a distant third with 856 days.
The record also makes Modi the country’s fourth longest-serving PM after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
Moreover, if Modi’s tenure of 4,607 days as Gujarat chief minister is added, with a total of 6,880 days in the PMO and the CMO he becomes the longest-serving elected head of a government in India, surpassing Nehru’s record of 6,130 days in the PMO.
With 2,257 days in the PMO until July 30, Modi has already broken Vajpayee’s record of the country's longest continuous serving non-Congress PM.
Vajpayee became prime minister for the first time in May 1996. This is popularly known as a 13-day government, but official records show the government lasted 16 days, or from May 16, 1996, to June 1, 1996. Vajpayee had to step down ahead of a trust vote as he failed to secure enough support. This was the shortest stint for a PM in the country's history.
Vajpayee's second government had lasted 13 months -- from March 19, 1998 to April 17, 1999, when he had lost by a single vote in a no-trust motion. However, he remained caretaker PM until elections were held and the BJP-led NDA bounced back to power. Vajpayee’s third tenure was officially slated till October 2004, but the party brought forward the polls, buoyed by assembly poll victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Vajpayee’s five-year term had ended on May 22, 2004.
A ragtag coalition under the umbrella of the Janata Party had defeated the Indira Gandhi-led Congress in the March 1977 Lok Sabha election. Desai became PM of the coalition on March 24, 1977. After a brief stint of over two years, the first non-Congress government at the Centre collapsed due to infighting. Desai resigned on July 28, 1979. His predecessor, Chaudhary Charan Singh’s government, had lasted for just 170 days until January 14, 1980.
Others on the list, including Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandra Shekhar, HD Deve Gowda, and Inder Kumar Gujral weren’t able to complete even a year in the PMO. While Singh lasted for 343 days, Gujral served for 332 days as PM. Deve Gowda and Chandra Shekhar remained PM for 324 and 223 days, respectively.