Date of Birth : Jul 4, 1898
Date of Death : Jan 15, 1998
Place of Birth : Punjab
Political party : Congress (I)
Took Office : May 27, 1964
Left Office : Jun 9, 1964
Successor : Lal Bahadur Shastri
Gulzari Lal Nanda the honest Indian was born in undivided Punjab. He did his post graduation in economics and then LLB and passed out in 1921 to become a staunch trade unionist. Overwhelmed by patriotism, Nanda joined the non-cooperation movement under the stewardship of Mahatma Gandhi and later became a professor of economics at National College in Mumbai, as Gandhiji had withdrawn his non-cooperative movement. In Mumbai moved by the plight of industrial workers he took active part in trade union activities and was elected secretary of the national trade textile association in 1922. The civil disobedience movement launched by Gandhi in 1930 once again fired his imagination and he again became a political activism and was imprisoned in 1932. During the Quit India movement, he was jailed for two years. In 1946, following the installation of provincial governments in the states, he was appointed parliamentary secretary and also Chairman of the Bombay Housing Board and then called to Delhi as Deputy. Chairman of Nehru’s Planing Commission. In Delhi he was inducted into the Union Cabinet. For the next 11 years, he looked after planning, labor, employment, irrigation and power. Known to be non-partisan, he was acceptable to a large section of the Congress party workers. In 1960 Nehru recalled him to the Planning Commission as its deputy chairman, a post he held till 1963.
Following Nehru’s death on May 27, 1964, he served as acting Prime Minister for a fortnight before Shastri took over. He again took over as acting Prime Minister after Shastri’s death in Tashkent on January 11, 1966. Gulzari Lal Nanda retired from active politics in the early 1970s. A principled politician, he found himself ”out of tune” with the changed circumstances. And did not owe any property. He had lived in a rented house in New Delhi’s Defence Colony from which he was evicted since he could not pay its rent and moved to Ahmedabad where he lived with his daughter. What sets him apart from almost all the other freedom fighters who held high offices in independent India is his complete insulation from desire material. He had no source of income and would not accept funds from his children or from any well wisher. A friend, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, forced him to sign an application for the freedom fighter’s pension of Rs 500 per month.