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5 Longest Serving Chief Ministers of India

longest serving cm

India is a big country where governance happens at various levels, from local panchayat and municipal corporations to state and central government. State government is one of the crucial layers of governance that take care of the administration and development of the state. The head of the state is the Chief Minister, who is assisted by a council of ministers. A chief minister makes crucial decisions for the state in various aspects and benefits the people of the state. Over the years, several chief ministers of India have left an incredible mark on the hearts of people, which is evident from their work and long tenure. Here are the top 5 longest-serving chief ministers of India.

1. Pawan Kumar Chamling

Pawan Kumar Chamling tops the list of the longest-serving chief minister with a tenure of 24 years and 165 days. He remains the chief minister of the beautiful northeastern state of India, “Sikkim” from 1994 to 2019. He established the Sikkim Democratic Front, a regional political party under which he governed the state for five consecutive terms. Before becoming the chief minister of the state, he served as the Minister of Information, Information and Public Relations from 1989 to 1992 in the cabinet of Nar Bahudar Bhandari, who was the chief minister of Sikkim from 1984 to 1985.

Work and achievements

Pawan Kumar Chamling played a vital role in transforming Sikkim into an organic state. He took several bold decisions to promote organic farming in the hill state. The starting point was the withdrawal of the chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Then rigid steps were taken, which included making laws for completely banning the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. 

Other policies that were set in motion were “One Village”, “One Crop”, and funding programmes to train farmers and make infrastructure for organic farming. On December 31, 2015, the government of India officially recognised and declared Sikkim as India’s first fully organic state, acknowledging the remarkable work of the state in organic farming. Sikkim also won the “Future Policy Award” after beating around 51 nominations from all around the world in 2018. The award was given by UN’s FAO Maria Helena Semedo to the Greenest Chief Minister of India, Pawan Kumar Chamling.

Capital of Sikkim- Gangtok

The current Chief Minister of Sikkim- Prem Singh Tamang

2. Naveen Patnaik

Naveen Patnaik, present Chief Minister of Odisha, comes second in the list of longest-serving CMs. However, he will surpass Pawan Kumar Chamling if he wins the upcoming May-June (2024) assembly election. He has been the chief minister of Odisha from 2000 till now and is the only CM after Pawan Kumar to win five terms consecutively. His father, Biju Patnaik, was the former Chief Minister of Odisha. He joined politics after his father's demise in 1997 and founded the party Biju Janta Dal, which won the election with the BJP alliance and became the chief minister of the state in 2000. He was the union minister of steel and mines from 1998 to 2000.

Work and achievements

Naveen Patnaik transformed Odisha from a state which reported the most starvation cases to a major contributor to food production and security. The government took many pro-farmer initiatives to achieve this, from making a separate budget for agriculture to greater use of technology and increasing irrigation coverage.

We all are aware of the vulnerability of Odisha towards natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, and so is the Naveen Patnaik. His government utilized technology to implement effective disaster management measures. This includes using early warning systems to alert citizens, as well as performing effective evacuation and relief operations.

In 2023, India was successful in pushing towards eating millets globally, with the United Nations General Assembly declaring the previous year as the International Year of Millets. Odisha played a huge role in this- They came up with a model named “Odisha Millets Mission”, under which the government encouraged farmers to cultivate millets and support them financially and technologically. Because of his efforts, Odisha became the second largest producer of Ragi (Millets) in India, after Karnataka, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Recently, the United Nations resident coordinator in India, Shombi Sharp, appreciated the Odisha government initiatives in disaster management, food security and millet mission.

Capital of Odisha- Bhubaneswar

The current chief minister of Odisha- Naveen Patnaik

3. Jyoti Basu

Jyoti Basu ruled the state of West Bengal for 23 years and 134 days. He was a prominent leader of the communist movement in India and served as the chief minister of West Bengal from 1977 to 2000. Basu was born in a middle-class Bengali family. His father was a doctor and his mother was a social worker. He got interested in political activism while he was staying in London. He heard the lectures of political theorists and economists such as Harold Laski there and was influenced by their anti-fascism.

Work and achievements

Jyoti Basu took several land reform initiatives, which helped decrease poverty rates in the state. Jyoti Basu's government facilitated the adoption of technological advancements in farming, which was introduced during the Green Revolution in the 1960s. During his tenure from 1970 to 1980, West Bengal’s agriculture growth jumped to 0.6%. His efforts also helped transform the state from a food importer to an exporter. Under the rule of Jyoti Basu, West Bengal becomes the largest producer of rice, defeating Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. He also established the Haldia Industrial Belt, Slak Lake Electronics Complex and many  educational institutions.

Capital of West Bengal- Kolkata

The current chief minister of West Bengal- Mamta Banerjee

4. Gegong Apang

Gegong Apang served as the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh from 18 January 1980 to 19 January 1999 and August 2003 to April 2007, which is approximately 22 years and 250 days. He was a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) and is a member of the Janta Dal. He became the agriculture minister of Arunachal Pradesh in 1977 and was given PWD and agricultural ministry in 1978.

Work and achievements

Gegong Apang started many projects in Arunachal Pradesh to improve education, infrastructure, healthcare and connectivity. He emphasised more on uplifting the tribal communities of Arunachal Pradesh and formed alliances with both the regional and national parties to ensure the stability of the state that shares borders with China. His government also worked to preserve the cultural heritage and rich traditions of the tribes that resided in Arunachal Pradesh for hundreds of years.

Capital of Arunachal Pradesh-Itanagar

The current chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh–Pema Khandu

5. Lal Thanhawla

Lal Thanhawla is the former chief minister of the state of Mizoram, who served five terms from 1984 to 1986, 1989 to 1993, 1993 to 1998, 2008 to 2013 and 2013 to 2018. From 1973 to 2021, he was the president of the Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), which is a branch of the Indian National Congress. Under his face, congress remains in power in Mizoram for 22 years and 60 days.

Works and achievements

Lal Thanhawla implemented a new land policy in Mizoram, which was battling food insecurity and increased poverty because of Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation. In Jhum cultivation, a piece of land is cleared, and crops such as rice and maize are grown. After two or three seasons, the land becomes infertile, and farmers move to another land. Due to the growing population of Mizoram, it was challenging for people to follow this agricultural practice. The Lal Thanhawla government policies provided Jhumia families or people who follow Jhumia agriculture practices an alternative to earn their livelihood. This also helped preserve the forests which people used to cut down for Jhum cultivation. Lal Thanhawla received several awards for his work in Mizorams, such as the National Citizens Award in 1994, the Mother Teresa Lifetime Achievement Award and more.

Capital of Mizoram- Aizawl

The current chief minister of Mizoram - Lalduhawma

Why students should know about longest-serving CMs?

Whether you are studying in the best schools in Baddi or anywhere else in India, you should be aware of those chief ministers who have long held positions over various states in our country. Learning about them will help you understand the political history of India. Have you heard the name of the political party to which Mr Pawan Kumar Chamling belongs? No, right? This will also teach them about the incredible work they did, such as promoting organic farming, implementing advanced technology in disaster management, and more. So, overall, it will help enrich students by providing an understanding of policies and governance.

The bottom line

So, this is the list of some of the longest-serving CMs of India, along with their work and achievements. We hope you have gained insights about their contributions to their respective states and India as a whole. Share your thoughts on this article and how you will contribute to the growth and development of India when you grow.