most influential Politicians of post-independence India

Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi, Jyoti Basu to NT Rama Rao, Sheikh Abdullah to Jagjivan Ram: Journalist Vir Sanghvi picks 70 politicians who shaped the evolution of modern India.
(Read how this list was curated)

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Illustrations by Mohit Suneja.

Note from Vir Sanghvi on how he curated the list

Is it possible to pick just 70 people and say that they were the most influential politicians in the seven decades of our Independence?

Probably not. But I’ve given it a shot anyway, drawing up a list that I regard as fair and comprehensive but which others may well find contentious or controversial. But then, one man’s hero is often another man’s nonentity.

Not that this list is packed only with heroes. My criteria were simple: restrict the list to politicians who played a major role in the post-Independence period (so that ruled out Gandhiji, Netaji and many others) and then assess their influence and legacies. So, there are some villains here, people who did damage to India but who belong on this list because that damage was so great that we still suffer its consequences.

There are some surprising omissions. Many big-name politicians from the last two decades are not listed because I do not believe they left any legacy or changed India in any significant sense. And there is one entry that breaks my own rules. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was not really a politician. But he changed our view of the Presidency so radically that I couldn’t possibly have left him out.

As for the rest, well, all such lists are subjective. So, go ahead and disagree!