Monday, September 25, 2023

15+ Most Influential Political Leaders of India

India has a fascinating history from pre-independence to the present day. The freedom we experience today is the result of the sacrifices and tireless efforts of political leaders and social activists.

Many visionary leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, and Bhagat Singh, struggled and laid down their lives for India’s Independence. Each of them had their own vision with the sole purpose of getting independence. They served and will serve as role models for many youths today and beyond.

Post-independence, political leaders strived to build a democratic and prosperous nation. Leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Ambedkar formed a new, democratic India on the principles of justice, equality, and diversity.

Further, this era had its own challenges regarding the country’s economy, social justice, education, etc. Political leaders determined these challenges and made significant developments in industrialization, agriculture, and many other sectors, improving the country’s economy.

Today, India has evolved into the largest democratic country whose foundation lies on the principles and ideals set by visionary leaders in the past. Despite advances in all sectors, challenges persist. Current political leaders strive to eliminate all challenges hindering the country’s progress.

This blog post walks you through the list of some famous political leaders of India from the pre-independence era to the current one.

Famous Political Leaders of India – Shaping The Nation Prior and Post-Independence

Let us start our list of the most influential political leaders of India from contemporary leaders.

Contemporary Political Leaders of India: The Present & Future of India

1. Narendra Modi

Narendra ModiHighlights:

  • Born on: 17 September 1950
  • Political party: Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Occupation: Prime Minister

No list of Indian political leaders is complete without mentioning Modi. Narendra Damodardas Modi has been serving as the 14 and current Prime Minister of India since 2014 and is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Varanasi.

Earlier, he served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014. Along with being a member of the BJP, he is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindu nationalist paramilitary volunteer organization.

Modi is a popular Prime Minister from outside the Indian National Congress who has served for a long time. At the age of 8, he was introduced to RSS. In 1971, he became a full-time worker of RSS, and RSS assigned him to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In 2001, he was elected as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. People criticized his administration and management of the crisis during the 2002 Gujarat riots. His policies as the Chief Minister were believed to encourage economic growth. However, his administration failed to improve the state’s health, poverty, and educational indices.

Modi became the 14th Prime Minister in the 2014 Indian general election. His administration significantly increased direct foreign investment, reducing spending on healthcare, education, and social welfare programs. He led Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a high-profile sanitization campaign nationwide, and initiated the demonetization of the high-denomination bank notes.

In the 2019 election, Modi again became the Prime Minister of India. He abolished Jammu and Kashmir’s special status as the Indian-administered part of the disputed Kashmir region. He further introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act that prompted protests and encouraged the 2020 Delhi riots.

2. Amit Shah

Amit Shah


  • Born on: 22 October 1964
  • Political party: Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Occupation: Politician

Amit Anil Chandra Shah has been serving as the 31st and current Minister of Home Affairs since 2019 and the 1st Minister of Co-operation of India since 2021. From 2014 to 2020, he served as the 10th president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the chairman of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha from Gujarat from 2017 to 2019 and a member of Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar in the 2019 general election.

Moreover, Amit Shah was also a member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from Naranpura and Sarkhej. In the Modi ministry from 2002 to 2012, he served as Minister of State for Home, Law and Justice, Civil Defence, Home Guard, Border Security, Prison, Transport Prohibition, Gram Rakshak Dal, and Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Shas was the BJP’s in-charge for Uttar Pradesh. The BJP and its NDA won 73 out of 80 seats, which led to Shah’s rise to national prominence. Hence, he was appointed as the party’s president in 2014. As a president, Shah enabled BJP’s success in the Legislative Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, and Assam.

3. Yogi Adityanath

Yogi Adityanath


  • Born on: 5 June 1972
  • Political party: Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Occupation: Politician and monk

The original name of Yogi Adityanath is Ajay Mohan Singh Bisht. He is a chief member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and is currently serving as the 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He has been the longest-serving chief minister of Uttar Pradesh since 2017.

From 2017 to 2022, he was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council. Since 2022, he has represented the Gorakhpur Urban Assembly constituency in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. Additionally, he served as a Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency, Uttar Pradesh.

Yogi Adityanath is the head priest or mahant of the Gorakhnath Math, a Hindu monastery in Gorakhpur. He is also the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini.

After Yogi Adityanath became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, he kept 36 ministries under his control, including Home, Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, Food Security and Drug Administration, and Relief and Rehabilitation. In a cabinet meeting in 2017, he waived off the loans of Uttar Pradesh’s 87 lakh (8,700,000) small and marginal farmers.

Yogi Adityanath made great moves with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in infrastructure development, law and order, and ordinances and bills.

4. Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal


  • Born on: 16 August 1968
  • Political party: Aam Aadmi Party
  • Occupation: Politician, activist, and bureaucrat
  • Awards: Ramon Magsaysay Award

Arvind Kejriwal has been serving as the 7th Chief Minister of Delhi since 2015 and represents the New Delhi constituency in the Delhi Legislative Assembly. He launched the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2012 and has been the national chairperson of the party since then.

Kejriwal is a mechanical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur. He worked in the India Revenue Service before entering politics.

In 2006, he actively participated in the Parivartan movement through the right-to-information legislation in a campaign and won the Ramon Magsaysay Award. The same year, he founded the Public Cause Research Foundation and campaigned for transparent government.

Kejriwal’s AAP won with an unprecedented majority in the 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly elections. In the subsequent elections in 2020, AAP retained its power in Delhi and re-emerged victoriously. Outside Delhi, AAP registered victory in the 2022 Punjab Legislative Assembly election. Today, he is serving as the Chief Minister of Delhi for the third time in a row.

5. Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi


  • Born on: 19 June 1970
  • Political party: Indian National Congress

Rahul Gandhi is the son of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. He is a member of the Indian Parliament and represents the constituency of Wayanad, Kerala, in the Lok Sabha. Earlier, he represented the constituency of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. He also served as the president of the Indian National Congress party from 2017 to 2019.

Additionally, Rahul Gandhi is the chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. He is the trustee of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.

In March 2023, Rahul Gandhi was recently sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment by one of Gujarat’s courts. The reason was the speech he delivered in 2019 against Prime Minister Narendra Modi related to his surname. Though he was disqualified from the Parliament, the Supreme Court of India, in August 2023, allowed him to be reinstated as the MP for Wayanad.

Rahul Gandhi entered politics in 2004 and participated in general elections from Amethi. He won from the constituency in 2009 and 2014. In 2013, he was elected as the vice president of INC, and earlier, he served as the party’s general secretary. During the 2014 Indian General elections, Rahul Gandhi led the Congress’ campaign. The party suffered the worst electoral result.

Further, he succeeded his mother, Sonia Gandhi, as Congress Party leader. In the 2019 Indian General elections, Congress won 52 seats and lost the elections. Due to poor performance, he resigned as a party member.

6. Mamta Banerjee

Mamta Banerjee


  • Born on: 5 January 1955
  • Political party: All India Trinamool Congress
  • Occupation: Politician

Mamta Banerjee, often called Didi (big sister), is the current and 8th Chief Minister of West Bengal. Prior to becoming the chief minister, she served as Union Cabinet Minister multiple times. In 1988, she separated from the Indian National Congress and founded her own political party, All India Trinamool Congress (AITC or TMC). She became the second chairperson of her party in 2001.

Didi was the first woman to serve as the Minister of Railways two times. Also, she was the second female Minister of Coal. She served as the Minister of Human Resource Development, Youth Affairs and Sports, and Women and Child Development in the cabinet of the Indian government.

Manta Banerjee came to light after she strongly opposed the erstwhile land acquisition policies for industrialization. The Communist-led government led these policies in West Bengal.

In 2011, she defeated the 34-year-old Communist Party of India-led Left Front government and won the AITC alliance in West Bengal. From 2011 to 2021, she served as a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly from Bhabanipur.

Mamta Banerjee participated in the Nandigram assembly seat and lost to the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections. She was the third chief minister from West Bengal to lose from her own constituency. However, she led her party to a landslide victory in the later West Bengal elections. She was again elected as the West Bengal Legislative Assembly member from Bhabanipur constituency.

7. Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar


  • Born on: 1 March 1951
  • Political party: Janata Dal (United)
  • Occupation: Politician

Nitish Kumar is the 22nd and current Chief Minister of Bihar and the leader of the Janata Dal (United) party. He entered politics as a member of the Janata Dal. Earlier, he founded the Samata Party with George Fernandes in 1994. He served as the Union Minister of Railways, Agriculture, and Surface Transport.

In 1996, he was elected to the Lok Sabha, and his party joined the National Democratic Alliance. He served as the Union Minister in the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In 2003, he merged his party with the Janata Dal and served as its leader. After winning the majority in the 2005 Bihar Legislative Assembly, Kumar became the chief minister and headed a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Kumar left BJP after the party announced Narendra Modi as a candidate for prime minister. Later, he formed Mahagathbandhan with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and ​​Indian National Congress.

In 2014, Kumar resigned as the chief minister, as the party suffered losses after the 2014 Indian General elections. Meanwhile, Jitan Ram Manjhi served as the Chief Minister of Bihar. The following year, Kumar became the chief minister again after Manjhi resigned due to a political crisis.

8. Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh


  • Born on: 10 July 1951
  • Political party: Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Occupation: Politician and lecturer
  • Awards:

Rajnath Singh is the 29th and current Defence Minister of India and the deputy leader of Lok Sabha. He served as the 8th president of the Bharatiya Janata Party from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2014. Also, he was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from 2000 to 2002 and the Cabinet Minister for Road Transport and Highways under Vajpayee’s administration.

Furthermore, from 2003 to 2004, he served as the Minister of Agriculture. Under Modi’s ministry, he was the 30th Home Minister from 2014 to 2019.

Rajnath Singh started his career as an RSS Swayamsevak and is a veteran leader of the BJP. He was the advocate of the party’s Hindutva ideology and the president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. Also, he was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from Haidergarh, a member of Lok Sabha from Lucknow and Ghaziabad, and a member of Rajya Sabha.

Pre-Independence Political Leaders of India: Architects of Freedom

9. Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi


  • Born on: 2 October 1869
  • Political party: Indian National Congress
  • Occupation: Lawyer
  • Awards: Time Person of the Year (1930)

Popularly known as the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi was the primary leader for India’s independence from British rule. His non-violent campaigns proved the power of non-violence to the world.

Besides being a true political leader and social activist, M. K. Gandhi was an Indian lawyer and writer. While working in South Africa as a lawyer, he organized his first mass civil disobedience campaign called Satyagraha.

After he returned to India in 1915, he led several movements and campaigns, such as the Non-Cooperation Movement, Salt March, Quit India Movement, Kheda Movement, Champaran Movement, etc., for India’s independence. Finally, in 1947, British rule in India terminated, and Gandhi Ji’s dream of freedom came true.

However, Gandhi Ji did not participate in the celebration of independence due to the ongoing partition. Instead, he visited places affected by violence. He aimed to create a country where people of different religions live happily. However, many Hindus believed he supported Pakistan and Hindu Muslims. As a result, Nathuram Ghodse, a Hindu nationalist, assassinated Gandhi Ji.

In his autobiography, he explains the philosophy, ideas, and implementation of non-violence. He dedicated half of his life to India’s independence, and his journey inspires future generations.

10. Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru


  • Born on: 14 November 1889
  • Political party: Indian National Congress
  • Awards: Bharat Ratna (1955)

The first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the principal leader in the Indian nationalist movement from the 1930s to 1940s. Gandhi Ji appointed him as his political heir, and Nehru became the president of the Indian National Congress in 1929.

In the 1930s, Congress and Nehru dominated the country’s politics. He promoted the concept of a secular nation-state, which allowed Congress to win elections and establish the government in several provinces. With the Quit India Movement, Nehru and other leaders were imprisoned in the early 1940s. After independence, he became the prime minister of India.

Under his leadership, Nehru started programs for social, economic, and political changes in India. He played a crucial role in founding the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) during the Cold War. Additionally, Congress started emerging as a catch-all party in every state. His leadership spanned 16 years and 286 days, which is the longest to date in India. His birthday is observed as Children’s Day in India.

11. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel


  • Born on: 31 October 1875
  • Political party: Indian National Congress
  • Occupation: Barrister
  • Awards: Bharat Ratna (posthumous, 1991)

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly known as the Iron Man of India, is another revolutionary leader who fought for India’s independence. He was the first Deputy Prime Minister of independent India. He was a senior leader of the National Congress Party and Home Minister of India during the political integration and the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947.

As a home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel spearheaded relief efforts for partition refugees moving from Pakistan to Punjab and Delhi. Along with Nehru and Menon, Patel released every princely state under British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act of 1947.

Furthermore, he played a crucial role in establishing the modern All India Services system. Hence, he is also remembered as the patron saint of India’s civil servants. In 2018, the Indian Government erected the world’s tallest statue in Gujarat, the Statue of Unity, dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

12. B. R. Ambedkar

B. R. Ambedkar


  • Born on: 14 April 1891
  • Political party: Independent Labour Party & Scheduled Castes Federation
  • Occupation: Jurist, economist, and writer
  • Awards: Bharat Ratna (1990, posthumous)

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, or Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, is the chief architect of the Indian constitution. He led the drafting team of the Constitution of India, where he ensured reservations in education and government jobs for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

In his political career, he fought for the rights and welfare of untouchable people (Dalits) in society. Also, he served as the Law and Justice minister in the first cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. He created several laws that addressed the issues related to civil rights, social justice, etc.

Ambedkar’s work had a great impact on modern India. The entire political spectrum accepts his thoughts today. The initiatives he led had transformed various spheres of life, including education and socio-economic policies. Further, his philosophies gave rise to multiple political parties and workers’ unions.

13. Lal Bahadur Shastri

Lal Bahadur Shastri


  • Born on: 2 October 1904
  • Political party: Indian National Congress
  • Occupation: Politician
  • Awards: Bharat Ratna (1966) (posthumous)

Lal Bahadur Shastri was the second prime minister of independent India who served from 1964 to 1966. Prior to becoming the prime minister, he served as the sixth home minister of India from 1961 to 1963. Also, he became the third minister of external affairs and railways.

Shastri was inspired by reading about Mahatma Gandhi, Annie Besant, and Swami Vivekanand. Being influenced and impressed by Gandhi Ji, he joined the Indian Independence Movement in 1920.

He was the president of Lok Sevak Mandal, formed by Lala Lajpat Rai. Post-independence, he became one of the prominent leaders of the Indian National Congress and the key cabinet colleague of Prime Minister Nehru.

Under his leadership as the prime minister, he promoted the White Revolution, a campaign to support the production and supply of milk. Further, he supported the Green Revolution in India by understanding the need for increasing India’s food grain production.

In the second India-Pakistan War, the country was under the leadership of Shastri. During this war, his slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” became popular.

14. Subhash Chandra Bose

Subhash Chandra Bose


  • Born on: 23 January 1897
  • Political party: Indian National Congress & All India Forward Bloc

Subhash Chandra Bose, referred to as Netaji (Respected Leader), was a hero among Indians due to his strong opposition to British rule. The Indian soldiers of the Indische Legion and German and Indian officials in the Special Bureau for India in Berlin referred to him as Netaji. However, today, every Indian calls him Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

In 1921, Netaji joined the nationalist movements led by Mahatma Gandhi and Indian National Congress. He became the president of Congress in 1938. However, the conflicts between Bose and Congress leaders, including Gandhi Ji, led him to resign as president. Further, Congress leaders expelled him from the party.

Netaji went Nazi Germany in 1941 and employed German funds to open the Free India Centre in Berlin. A 3000-strong Free India Legion was formed by recruiting Prisoner of Wars (POWs) to serve under Bose.

Further, Bose moved to Japan and tried to create the Indian National Army (INA). However, he was not very successful. The British Indian Army defeated the Japanese and Bose’s INA. While escaping to the Soviet Union, Bose died in a plane crash.

Today, many Indians consider Bose a hero, while some people have concerns about his collaboration with Japanese Fascism and Nazism.

15. Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak


  • Born on: 23 July 1856
  • Political party: Indian National Congress
  • Occupation: Teacher, writer, and freedom fighter

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, originally named Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, was a renowned figure in India’s independence. He was among the major members of the Indian National Congress. He was honored with the title Lokmanya, which means accepted by people as a leader. The British colonial authorities also called him “The father of the Indian unrest”, and Mahatma Gandhi referred to him as “The Maker of Modern India“.

In 1890, Tilak joined the Indian National Congress. He was among the first advocates of Swaraj (self-rule) and was popular among people with his slogan, “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!“. Among the trio of the extremist leaders Lal-Bal-Pal, Tilak was one named Bal.

He strongly supported boycotts and swadeshi movements and published two popular newspapers – Kesari in Marathi and Maratha in English. For 6 years, from 1908 to 1914, Tilak was imprisoned for his act of writing articles that defended Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose.

Further, he founded the All India Home Rule League with Annie Besant and G S Khaparde. Ancient Hindu scriptures inspired his political views. He transformed a simple Ganesh puja into a social and public festival intending to unite people and give rise to the national spirit.

16. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad


  • Born on: 11 November 1888
  • Political party: Indian National Congress
  • Occupation: Jurist, economist, and writer
  • Awards: Bharat Ratna (posthumously in 1992)

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the First Minister of Education of independent India. He is endeared as Maulana Azad, where the word Maulana implies ‘Our Master’ and Azad means free (which he chose as his pen name).

Initially, he worked as a journalist and published work criticizing British rule. He then led the Khilafat Movement and developed a close relationship with Mahatma Gandhi. After the failure of the movement, he joined the Indian National Congress. Further, he supported Gandhi Ji’s non-violent civil disobedience.

Maulana Azad also played a prominent role in organizing the non-cooperation movement. He supported Gandhi Ji in boycotting the British and promoting Swadeshi products and the cause of Swaraj for India.

In 1935, he became the president of the Indian National Congress. At that time, he was only 35 and served as the youngest president. Under his leadership, he launched the Quit India Rebellion. He was one of the foundation committee members of Jamia Millia Islamia that aimed to establish it in Aligarh in UP.

Azad enthusiastically organized and supported Dharasana Satyagraha in 1931. He worked to espouse Hindu-Muslim unity, secularism, and socialism.


Being the largest democratic country, India’s politics has numerous prominent figures from the pre-independence era who sacrificed their lives for independence to the modern era who are striving to develop the country.

The list of political leaders is exhaustive, and it is impossible to present all of them in a single article. Hence, we have enlisted some of the most famous figures with their brief history here.

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Sameeksha Medewar
Sameeksha Medewar
With 3+ years of experience in curating highly-informative and well-researched technical blogs, Sameeksha is a passionate technical writer, technology enthusiast, and computer science graduate. Besides, she enjoys curating copies of travel, entertainment, and food.

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