|Indian National Congress|
24, Akbar Road, |
New Delhi, 110011
|International affiliation||Alliance of Democrats|
|Politics of India|
The Indian National Congress (Hindi: भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस) (abbreviated INC, and commonly known as the Congress) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian political spectrum. Founded in 1885 by members of the occultist movement Theosophical Society—Allan Octavian Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, Surendranath Banerjee, Monomohun Ghose, Mahadev Govind Ranade and William Wedderburn—the Indian National Congress became the leader of the Indian Independence Movement, with over 15 million members and over 70 million participants in its struggle against British rule in India. After independence in 1947, it became the nation's dominant political party, led by the Nehru-Gandhi family for the most part; major challenges for party leadership have only recently formed.
In the 2009 general elections, the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, with 206 of its candidates getting elected to the 543-member house. Consequently it, along with a coalition of allies called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), was able to gain a majority and form the government.
The history of the Indian National Congress falls into two distinct eras:
- The pre-independence era, when the party was at the forefront of the struggle for independence and was instrumental in the whole of India;
- The post-independence era, when the party has enjoyed a prominent place in Indian politics, ruling the country for 48 of the 60 years since independence in 1947.
In the pre-independence era, the Congress was divided in two groups, moderate and activist. The moderates were more educated and wanted to win people's faith to lead the nation to independence without bloodshed; the activists however wanted to follow a revolutionary path and make it a militant organization.
The pre-independence era
The Congress was founded by Indian and British members of the occultist movement Theosophical Society, most notably A.O. Hume. It has been suggested that the idea was originally conceived in a private meeting of seventeen men after a Theosophical Convention held at Madras in December 1884. Hume took the initiative, and it was in March 1885 that the first notice was issued convening the first Indian National Union to meet at Poona the following December.
Founded in 1885 with the objective of obtaining a greater share in government for educated Indians, the Indian National Congress was initially not opposed to British rule. The Congress met once a year during December. Indeed, it was a Scotsman, Allan Octavian Hume, who brought about its first meeting in Bombay, with the approval of Lord Dufferin, the then-Viceroy.
Womesh Chandra Bannerjee was the first President of the INC. The first meeting was scheduled to be held in Pune, but due to a plague outbreak there, the meeting was later shifted to Bombay. The first session of the INC was held from 28–31 December 1885, and was attended by 72 delegates.
Within a few years, the demands of the INC became more radical in the face of constant opposition from the government, and the party became very active in the independence movement. By 1907 the party was split into two halves—the Garam Dal (literally "hot faction") of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, or Extremists, and the Naram Dal (literally "soft faction") of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, or Moderates—distinguished by their attitude towards the British. Under the influence of Tilak, the Congress became the first integrated mass organization in the country, bringing together millions of people against the British. The Indian National Congress was the only political party to provide harmony to all the sects of the Indian society. 
In the pre-independence era, the INC featured a number of prominent political figures: Dadabhai Naoroji, a member of the sister Indian National Association, elected president of the Congress in 1886, and between 1892 and 1895 the first Indian Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons; Bal Gangadhar Tilak; Bipin Chandra Pal; Lala Lajpat Rai; Gopal Krishna Gokhale; and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, later leader of the Muslim League and instrumental in the creation of Pakistan. The Congress was transformed into a mass movement by Surendranath Banerjea and Sir Henry Cotton during the partition of Bengal in 1905 and the resultant Swadesi movement. Mohandas Gandhi returned from South Africa in 1915 and with the help of the moderate group led by Ghokhale became president of the Congress and formed an alliance with the Khilafat movement. In protest a number of leaders—Chittaranjan Das, Annie Besant, Motilal Nehru—resigned from the Congress to set up the Swaraj Party. The Khilafat movement collapsed and the Congress was split.
With the rise of Mahatma Gandhi's popularity and his Satyagraha art of revolution came Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (the nation's first Prime Minister), Dr. Rajendra Prasad (the nation's first President), Khan Mohammad Abbas Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Chakravarti Rajgopalachari, Jivatram Kripalani and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. With the already existing nationalistic feeling combined with Gandhi's popularity the Congress became a forceful mass organization in the country, bringing together millions of people by specifically working against caste differences, untouchability, poverty, and religious and ethnic boundaries. Although predominantly Hindu, it had members from virtually every religion, ethnic group, economic class and linguistic group. In 1939, Subhas Chandra Bose, the elected president in both 1938 and 1939 was expelled from the Congress for his socialist views and the Congress was reduced to a pro-business group financed by the business houses of Birla and Bajaj. At the time of the Quit India movement, the Congress was undoubtedly the strongest political and revolutionary organization in India, but the Congress disassociated itself from the Quit India movement within a few days. The Indian National Congress could not claim to be the sole representative of the Indian people as other parties were there as well notably the Hindu Mahasabha, Azad Hind Sarkar, and Forward Bloc.
The 1929 Lahore session under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru holds special significance as in this session "Poorna Swaraj" (complete independence) was declared as the goal of the INC. 26 January 1930 was declared as "Poorna Swaraj Diwas", Independence Day, although the British were remain in India for seventeen more years. (To commemorate this date the Constitution of India was formally adopted on 26 January 1950, even though it had been passed on 26 November 1949.) However in 1929 Srinivas Iyenger was expelled from the Congress for demanding full independence, not just home rule as demanded by Gandhi.
After the First World War the party became associated with Mahatma Gandhi, who remained its unofficial, spiritual leader and mass icon even as younger men and women became party president. The party was in many ways an umbrella organization, sheltering within itself radical socialists, traditionalists and even Hindu and Muslim conservatives, but all the socialist groupings (including the Congress Socialist Party, Krishak Praja Party, and Swarajya Party members) were expelled by Gandhi along with Subhas Chandra Bose in 1939.
Members of the Congress initially supported the sailors who led the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny. However they withdrew support at the critical juncture, when the mutiny failed.
During the INA trials of 1946, the Congress helped to form the INA Defence Committee, which forcefully defended the case of the soldiers of the Azad Hind government. The committee declared the formation of the Congress' defence team for the INA and included famous lawyers of the time, including Bhulabhai Desai, Asaf Ali, and Jawaharlal Nehru.
The post-independence era
The party remained in power for thirty continuous years between independence in 1947 and its first taste of electoral defeat (at the national level) in 1977.
Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel are said to have held the view that the INC was formed only for achieving independence and should have been disbanded in 1947. However, at the time of independence, the INC (led by Jawaharlal Nehru) was a major political organization in the country, and was established as the major political party. The Congress thus, considering the perceived need for a stable leadership and guiding vision after the terrible chaos and confusion following the Partition of India and independence, was re-established as an electoral party in independent India. Across several general elections, the party ruled uninterrupted until 1977, and has remained a major political force.
After the murder of Gandhi in 1948, and the death of Sardar Patel in 1950, Jawaharlal Nehru was the sole remaining iconic national leader, and soon the situation became such that Nehru was key to the political potency and future of the Congress. Nehru embraced secularism, socialist economic policies and a non-aligned foreign policy, which became the hallmark of the modern Congress Party. Nehru's policies challenged the landed and business classes, and improved the position of religious minorities and lower-caste Hindus. A generation of freedom fighting leaders was soon replaced by a generation of people who had grown up in the shadow of Nehru. Nehru led the Congress to consecutive majorities in the elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962.
After Nehru's death in 1964, the party's future first came into question. No other leader had Nehru's popular appeal, so the second-stage leadership mustered around the compromise candidate, the gentle, soft-spoken and Nehruvian Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri remained Prime Minister till his own death in 1966, and a broad Congress party election opted for Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter, over the right-wing, conservative Morarji Desai.
Toward the end of Nehru's life, K. Kamaraj was became the president of the All India Congress Committee and proposed the Kamaraj Plan. According to the plan six Congress chief ministers and six senior Cabinet ministers resigned to take up party work. After Nehru's death, Kamaraj was instrumental in bringing Lal Bahadur Shastri to power in 1964. He was part of a group of leaders in the Congress called "the syndicate". After Shastri's death, the syndicate favoured Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi over Morarji Desai and she became the prime minister of India in 1967. For his role in the two successions, Kamaraj was widely credited as the "kingmaker" in Indian politics. Kamaraj stepped down as AICC president in 1967.
The first serious challenge to Congress hegemony came in 1967 when a united opposition, under the banner of Samyukt Vidhayak Dal, won control over several states in the Hindi belt. Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Nehru, and Congress president, was then challenged by the majority of the party leadership. The conflict led to a split, and Indira launched a separate INC. Initially this party was known as Congress (R), but it soon came to be generally known as the "New Congress". The official party became the Indian National Congress (Organisation) led by Kamaraj. It was informally called the "Old Congress". As Indira Gandhi had control over the national state machinery, her faction was recognized as the true INC by the Election Commission of India, although her organization was the break-away group.
The split can in some ways be seen as a left-wing/right-wing division. Indira Gandhi wanted to use a populist agenda in order to mobilize popular support for the party. She raised slogans such as Garibi Hatao (Remove Poverty), and wanted to develop closer ties with the Soviet Union. The regional party elites, who formed the INC(O), stood for a more conservative agenda, and distrusted Soviet help. INC(O) later merged into the Janata Party.
Gradually, Indira Gandhi grew more authoritarian. Following allegations of widespread rigging in the general elections, a court overturned Gandhi's victory in her parliamentary constituency. Facing growing opposition she proclaimed a state of National Emergency in 1975, curtailed the powers of the courts, and unleashed a police state.
After she lifted the emergency in 1977, more Congress factions were formed, the one remaining loyal to Indira Gandhi being popularly known as Congress(I) with an 'I' for Indira. Congress(I) was routed in the general elections by the Janata Party, but the resulting coalition government fell apart in two years. The Congress party returned to power in the ensuing 1980 elections. In 1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, in revenge for Operation Blue Star. In the following days more than six thousand Sikhs were killed in the 1984 riots, mainly in Delhi, by activists and leaders of the Congress Party.
The post-Indira era
Afterward, former treasurer Sitaram Kesri took over the reins of the party and oversaw the Congress support to the United Front governments that ran from 1996–1998. During his tenure, several key leaders broke away from the party, and serious infighting broke out among those left. In 1998, Sonia Gandhi finally accepted the post of Congress President, in a move that may have saved the party from extinction.
After her election as party leader, a section of the party, which objected to the choice, broke away and formed the Nationalist Congress Party. The use of "Congress (I)" continues to denote the party run by Indira Gandhi's successors. There have been repeated attempts by the Indian nationalist groups (such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP) to discredit Sonia Gandhi's leadership on the basis of her foreign origin—she is of Italian ethnicity.
Although the Congress expedited the downfall of the NDA government in 1999 by promising an alternative, Ms. Gandhi's decision was followed by fresh elections and the Congress party's worst-ever tally in the lower house. The party spent the interval period forging alliances and overseeing changes in the state and central organizations to revive the party. It has had many electoral successes which led up to the formation of a Congress-led government in 2004. In the next general election in 2009 which made Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister once again, and Congress was the first party to get 206 seats during a coalition era of politics.
Prime Ministers of the Republic of India from the Congress Party
- Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–1964)
- Gulzarilal Nanda (May–June 1964 and in January 1966)
- Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964–1966)
- Indira Gandhi (1966–1977, 1980–1984)
- Rajiv Gandhi (1984–1989)
- P.V. Narasimha Rao (1991–1996)
- Manmohan Singh (2004–)
Formation of present Government of India
In the 2004 general elections, the Congress alliance won the largest number of seats and got an assurance of support from the Left Front upsetting the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance, which was variously forecast to win outright victory or at least emerge as the largest alliance. Shortly thereafter, Sonia Gandhi was nominated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance to be the next Prime Minister. But in what was described as the dropping of a political bombshell, Sonia Gandhi refused to take the position based on her "inner voice". She backed eminent economist, former Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Dr. Manmohan Singh for the post of Prime Minister, and he was sworn-in as Prime Minister on 22 May 2004. Veerappa Moily, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, was named the Honourable Minister for Law, Justice, and Company Affairs and was appointed to be the All India Congress Committee's General Secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh.
Despite strong opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), AIADMK, SP, RJD, LJP, TDP, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Indian National Congress won the elections again in 2009, the people gave their mandate to the Congress party and it was the only party to achieve 206 seats in 20 years. The youth supported the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. The Congress's popularity has increased by 61% during the elections.
Ideology and policies
Historically, the party has favored farmers, laborers, labor unions, and religious and ethnic minorities; it has opposed unregulated business and finance, and favored progressive income taxes. However, in recent years the party had adopted centrist economic and social democratic agenda. Today, the INC advocates neo-liberal policies which includes populism, social liberalism, secularism and free enterprise system with government regulations such as public–private partnership (PPP) model. Though it still believes in eradicating poverty, illiteracy and strongly supports the weaker section of the society.
Social policy of the INC is based on Gandhian concept of Sarvodaya (upliftment of all sections of the society.) In particular INC gives special emphasis on the welfare of the economically and socially disadvantaged sections of the society. This includes "affirmative action" reservations for weaker sections of the society in education and employment, emphasis on employment generation for rural population (through schemes such as National Rural Employment Generation Scheme) etc. The party supports family planning with birth control but opposes elective abortion, in particular sex selective abortions and late term abortions.
Traditionally, Economic policy of the INC emphasized on the importance of the public sector aimed at establishing a "socialistic pattern of society". However, since the economic liberalizations initiated by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister in the early 1990s, the economic policy of INC has been changed somewhat and it is now adopted free market policies, though at the same time it is in favour of taking a cautious approach in proceeding with liberalization to ensure that the weaker sections are not affected too hard by the liberalization process.
Traditionally, nonalignment has been the bedrock of the foreign policy of the INC.
The organization developed by Mohandas Gandhi's reorganization of the Congress in the years of 1918 to 1920 has largely been retained till today.
In every Indian state and union territory or pradesh, there is a Pradesh Congress Committee, which is the provincial unit of the party, responsible for directing political campaigns at local and state levels and assisting the campaigns for Parliamentary constituencies. Each PCC has a Working Committee of 10-15 key members, and the state president is the leader of the state unit. The Congressmen elected as members of the states legislative assemblies form the Congress Legislature Parties in the various state assemblies, and their chairperson is usually the party's nominee for Chief Ministership.
The All India Congress Committee is formed of delegates sent from the PCCs around the country. The delegates elect various Congress committees, including the Congress Working Committee, which consists of senior party leaders and office bearers, and takes all important executive and political decisions.
The President of the Indian National Congress is in effect the party's national leader, head of the organization, head of the Working Committee and all chief Congress committees, chief spokesman and the Congress choice to become the Prime Minister of India.
Constitutionally, the president is to be elected by the vote of the PCCs and members of the AICC. However, this procedure has often been by-passed by the Working Committee, choosing to elect its own candidate as an emergency measure.
The Congress Parliamentary Party is the group of elected MPs in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.It is headed by senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee. Since the current Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh is not an elected member of the Lok Sabha, Pranab is the CPP president. Dr.Singh is Leader of the Rajya Sabha. There is also a CLP leader in each state. The CLP (Congress Legislative Party) consists of all MLAs in each state. It also comes under the CPP so Pranab is head of the MLAs also.In cases of states where the Congress is single-handedly ruling the government,the CLP leader is the Chief Minister.
Congress in various states
Congress is currently in power in seven states (Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Mizoram and Manipur) where the party enjoys a majority of its own. In three other states — Assam, Goa and Maharashtra — it shares power with other alliance partners. In Tamil Nadu, where it lost power in 1967 assembly election, is not able to capture again since then. The party now provides outside support to the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam there in return for DMK's outside support for Congress in Puducherry. In the remaining states and union territories, various opposition parties are in power.
List of current Congress Chief Ministers
- Dorjee Khandu - Arunachal Pradesh
- Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy - Andhra Pradesh
- Tarun Gogoi - Assam
- Sheila Dikshit - Delhi
- Digambar Kamat - Goa
- Bhupinder Singh Hooda - Haryana
- Prithviraj Chavan - Maharashtra
- Okram Ibobi Singh - Manipur
- Pu Lalthanhawla - Mizoram
- Vaithilingam - Puducherry
- Ashok Gehlot - Rajasthan
- D.D. Lapang - Meghalaya
List of presidents of the party
|Name of President||Life Span||Year of Presidency||Place of Conference|
|Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee||29 December 1844- 1906||1885||Mumbai|
|Dadabhai Naoroji||4 September 1825- 1917||1886||Calcutta|
|Badruddin Tyabji||10 October 1844- 1906||1887||Madras|
|Sir William Wedderburn||1838–1918||1889||Mumbai|
|Sir Pherozeshah Mehta||4 August 1845- 1915||1890||Calcutta|
|P. Anandacharlu||August 1843- 1908||1891||Nagpur|
|Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee||29 December 1844- 1906||1892||Allahabad|
|Dadabhai Naoroji||4 September 1825- 1917||1893||Lahore|
|Surendranath Banerjea||10 November 1848- 1925||1895||Pune|
|Rahimtulla M. Sayani||5 April 1847- 1902||1896||Calcutta|
|Sir C. Sankaran Nair||11 July 1857- 1934||1897||Amraoti|
|Ananda Mohan Bose||23 September 1847- 1906||1898||Madras|
|Romesh Chunder Dutt||13 August 1848- 1909||1899||Lucknow|
|Sir Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar||2 December 1855- 1923||1900||Lahore|
|Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha||2 August 1844- 1936||1901||Calcutta|
|Surendranath Banerjea||10 November 1825- 1917||1902||Ahmedabad|
|Sir Henry Cotton||1845–1915||1904||Mumbai|
|Gopal Krishna Gokhale||9 May 1866- 1915||1905||Benares|
|Dadabhai Naoroji||4 September 1825- 1917||1906||Calcutta|
|Rashbihari Ghosh||23 December 1845- 1921||1907||Surat|
|Rashbihari Ghosh||23 December 1845- 1921||1908||Madras|
|Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya||25 December 1861- 1946||1909||Lahore|
|Sir William Wedderburn||1838–1918||1910||Allahabad|
|Pandit Bishan Narayan Dar||1864–1916||1911||Calcutta|
|Rao Bahadur Raghunath Narasinha Mudholkar||1857–1921||1912||Bankipur|
|Nawab Syed Muhammad Bahadur||?- 1919||1913||Karachi|
|Bhupendra Nath Bose||1859–1924||1914||Madras|
|Lord Satyendra Prasanna Sinha||March 1863- 1928||1915||Mumbai|
|Ambica Charan Mazumdar||1850–1922||1916||Lucknow|
|Annie Besant||1 October 1847- 1933||1917||Calcutta|
|Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya||25 December 1861- 1946||1918||Delhi|
|Syed Hasan Imam||31 August 1871- 1933||1918||Mumbai (Special Session)|
|Pandit Motilal Nehru||6 May 1861- 6 February 1931||1919||Amritsar|
|Lala Lajpat Rai||28 January 1865- 17 November 1928||1920||Calcutta (Special Session)|
|C. Vijayaraghavachariar||1852- 19 April 1944||1920||Nagpur|
|Hakim Ajmal Khan||1863- 29 December 1927||1921||Ahmedabad|
|Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das||5 November 1870- 16 June 1925||1922||Gaya|
|Maulana Mohammad Ali||10 December 1878- 4 January 1931||1923||Kakinada|
|Maulana Abul Kalam Azad||1888- 22 February 1958||1923||Delhi (Special Session)|
|Mahatma Gandhi||2 October 1869- 30 January 1948||1924||Belgaum|
|Sarojini Naidu||13 February 1879- 2 March 1949||1925||Kanpur|
|S. Srinivasa Iyengar||September 11, 1874- 19 May 1941||1926||Gauhati|
|Dr. M A Ansari||25 December 1880- 10 May 1936||1927||Madras|
|Pandit Motilal Nehru||6 May 1861- 6 February 1931||1928||Calcutta|
|Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru||14 November 1889- 27 May 1964||1929 & 30||Lahore|
|Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel||31 October 1875- 15 December 1950||1931||Karachi|
|Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya||25 December 1861- 1946||1932||Delhi|
|Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya||25 December 1861- 1946||1933||Calcutta|
|Dr. Rajendra Prasad||3 December 1884- 28 February 1963||1934 & 35||Mumbai|
|Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru||14 November 1889- 27 May 1964||1936||Lucknow|
|Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru||14 November 1889- 27 May 1964||1936& 37||Faizpur|
|Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose||23 January 1897- 18 August 1945?||1938||Haripura|
|Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose||23 January 1897- 18 August 1945?||1939||Jabalpur|
|Maulana Abul Kalam Azad||1888- 22 February 1958||1940-46||Ramgarh|
|Acharya J.B. Kripalani||1888- 19 March 1982||1947||Delhi|
|Dr Pattabhi Sitaraimayya||24 December 1880- 17 December 1959||1948 & 49||Jaipur|
|Purushottam Das Tandon||1 August 1882- 1 July 1961||1950||Nasik|
|Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru||14 November 1889- 27 May 1964||1951 & 52||Delhi|
|Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru||14 November 1889- 27 May 1964||1953||Hyderabad|
|Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru||14 November 1889- 27 May 1964||1954||Kalyani|
|U N Dhebar||21 September 1905- 1977||1955||Avadi|
|U N Dhebar||21 September 1905- 1977||1956||Amritsar|
|U N Dhebar||21 September 1905- 1977||1957||Indore|
|U N Dhebar||21 September 1905- 1977||1958||Gauhati|
|U N Dhebar||21 September 1905- 1977||1959||Nagpur|
|Indira Gandhi||19 November 1917- 31 October 1984||1959||Delhi|
|Neelam Sanjiva Reddy||19 May 1913- 1 June 1996||1960||Bangalore|
|Neelam Sanjiva Reddy||19 May 1913- 1 June 1996||1961||Bhavnagar|
|Neelam Sanjiva Reddy||19 May 1913- 1 June 1996||1962 & 63||Patna|
|K. Kamaraj||15 July 1903- 2 October 1975||1964||Bhubaneswar|
|K. Kamaraj||15 July 1903- 2 October 1975||1965||Durgapur|
|K. Kamaraj||15 July 1903- 2 October 1975||1966 & 67||Jaipur|
|S. Nijalingappa||10 December 1902- 9 August 2000||1968||Hyderabad|
|S. Nijalingappa||10 December 1902- 9 August 2000||1969||Faridabad|
|Jagjivan Ram||5 April 1908- 6 July 1986||1970 & 71||Mumbai|
|Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma||19 August 1918- 26 December 1999||1972- 74||Calcutta|
|Dev Kant Baruah||22 February 1914- 1996||1975- 77||Chandigarh|
|Indira Gandhi||19 November 1917- 31 October 1984||1978- 83||Delhi|
|Indira Gandhi||19 November 1917- 31 October 1984||1983 -84||Calcutta|
|Rajiv Gandhi||20 August 1944- 21 May 1991||1985 -91||Mumbai|
|P. V. Narasimha Rao||28 June 1921- 23 December 2004||1992 -96||Tirupati|
|Sitaram Kesri||November 1919- 24 October 2000||1997 -98||Kolkata|
|Sonia Gandhi||9 December 1946-||1998–present||Kolkata|
2009 general elections
The Indian National Congress-led coalition United Progressive Alliance (UPA), headed by Ms. Sonia Gandhi, won the plurality of votes in the general elections of 2009 and formed the government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Controversies and criticisms
Since the party has dominated the political landscape of India for over a century, there are many charges of corruption and similar charges against it. In the wake of the 2G Spectrum scam, the 2010 Commonwealth Games Scam and the Adarsh Housing Society Mumbai, a survey by an Indian magazine Outlook and a television news channel CNN-IBN in 2011 said that the Congress was seen as the most corrupt political party in India. Examples of the same are:
1947- Anti-Godse riots
After the knowledge that the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, Nathuram Godse, was a Maharashtrian Brahmin, some workers of the Congress Party went on a rampage, against the supporters of Savarkar and Nathuram Godse, burning their houses and putting thousands in jail.
1975-1977- State of Emergency
On 12 June 1975 the High Court of Allahabad declared Indira Gandhi's election to the Lok Sabha void on grounds of electoral malpractice. But Mrs Gandhi rejected calls to resign and announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Indira had already been accused of authoritarianism. By using her strong parliamentary majority, her ruling Congress Party had amended the Constitution and altered the balance of power between the Centre and the States in favour of the Central Government. She had twice imposed "President's Rule" under Article 356 of the Constitution by declaring states ruled by opposition parties as "lawless and chaotic", and thus seizing control. In response to her new tendency for authoritarian use of power, public figures and former freedom-fighters like Jaya Prakash Narayan, Satyendra Narayan Sinha and Acharya Jivatram Kripalani toured India, speaking actively against her and her government.
Indira Gandhi moved to restore order by ordering the arrest of most of the opposition participating in the unrest. Her Cabinet and government then recommended that President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declare a state of emergency, because of the disorder and lawlessness following the Allahabad High Court decision. Accordingly, Ahmed declared a State of Emergency caused by internal disorder, based on the provisions of Article 352 of the Constitution, on 26 June 1975. It is one of the most controversial periods in the history of independent India.
1984 Anti-Sikh riots
After the assassination of Indira Gandhi by 2 of her Sikh Body Guards following Operation Bluestar, many Congress workers including Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and Kamal Nath were accused of inciting and participating in Sikh riots.
There are allegations that the government destroyed evidence and shielded the guilty. The Asian Age front page story called the government actions "the Mother of all Cover-ups" There are allegations that the violence was led and often perpetrated by Indian National Congress activists and sympathizers during the riots. The government, then led by the Congress, was widely criticized for doing very little at the time, possibly acting as a conspirator. The conspiracy theory is supported by the fact that voting lists were used to identify Sikh families.
The Bofors scandal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1980s. Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was simultaneously serving as the president of Congress (I), and his associates the late Win Chadha and Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi were accused of receiving kickbacks to help Bofors win a bid in 1986 to sell 155 mm field howitzers to the Indian Army. The scale of this corruption was far worse than any that India had seen before, and directly led to the defeat of Gandhi's ruling Congress party in the November 1989 general elections. It has been speculated that the scale of the scandal was to the tune of Rs. 400 million.
The case came to light during Vishwanath Pratap Singh's tenure as defence minister, and was revealed through investigative journalism by Chitra Subramaniam and N. Ram of the newspapers the Indian Express and The Hindu.
In January 2011, an income tax tribunal ruled that Rs. 41.2 crore was paid as kickbacks to the late Win Chadha and Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Swedish howitzer deal and the two are liable to tax in India on such income.
Charges of bidding for seats
In November 2008, senior Congress leader, Margaret Alva, made a charge that Congress seats for the elections were up for bidding as opposed to a meritocratic appointment to run. The party responded to the charge by denying such a claim, as well as dropping her as general secretary of the party, the Congress Working Committee and the party's Central Election Committee. She was also stripped of her charge of the Congress party in Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Mizoram. Congress spokesperson, Shakeel Ahmad, added that "Congress president Mrs Sonia Gandhi has taken the decision on the report submitted by Mr AK Antony, chairperson of the Disciplinary Action Committee." This followed an outburst by the son of the congress chairperson, Rahul Gandhi, that "Democracy in political parties is non-existent in India. You cannot enter unless you are well connected." In response the recent allegations he said, "I had made some recommendations to include some younger boys. I am not unhappy with the distribution of tickets."
Allegations of religious bias
The Congress party and it's allies are accused of "pseudo" secularism, in which only Hindus are expected to be secular while Muslims and other minorities remain free to practice exclusionary practices.
In 2010, the Internet whistleblower organization Wikileaks released documents attesting to the Indian National Congress using anti-Hindu and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of "Hindu and Jewish terrorist involvement" in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Former United States ambassador to India, David Mulford, reacted to these claims by accusing the party of "pandering to Muslims' fears", and that "crass political opportunism" swayed the thinking of some Congress party leaders."
2G Spectrum Scam
The scam was bought into limelight in 2010 when case filed against Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja has been reported. 2G licenses were issued to private telecom players at throwaway prices in 2008. The CAG estimates the Spectrum scam has cost the government Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. Rules and procedures were flouted while issuing licenses.
The 2G spectrum scam came in a year that was full of scams for the Congress(UPA) government. The government meanwhile also faced the accusation of using the CBI for covering up scandals, in wake of which, the BJP chief Nitin Gadkari termed the CBI as "Congress Bureau of Investigation".
Bribes to Members of Parliament
As per United States secret diplomatic cable number 162458 dated 17 July 2008, Congress Party insider Satish Sharma's political aide Nachiketa Kapur told a US diplomat on 16 July 2008 that the party paid INR 100 million (about $2.5 million) each to four Members of Parliament in order to help the party narrowly survive a no-confidence motion.
Another Congress Party insider told the US Political Counsel in New Delhi that Congress Party cabinet minister Kamal Nath was also helping bribe Members of Parliament in order to help secure the votes.
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- ↑ Strong Victory For Center-Left Congress Party In India—World’s Two Largest Democracies Now Firmly Reject Conservatives, Texas Liberal,
- ↑ Political Parties, International Organizations and Individuals joining the Alliance of Democrats, Alliance of Democrats
- ↑ The nature and dynamics of factional conflict(p.69)By P. N. Rastogi
- ↑ Parliamentary debates, Volume 98, Issues 1-9(p.111) Published by Parliament of India-Rajya Sabha
- ↑ Indian National Congress: a select bibliography By Manikrao Hodlya Gavit, Attar Chand
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Theosophy and the Origins of the Indian National Congress, Bevir, Mark, University of California, Berkeley, Publication Date: 01-01-2003 s. 14-18. Original Citation: Mark Bevir, “Theosophy and the Origins of the Indian National Congress”, International Journal of Hindu Studies 7 (2003), 99-115. E.g., "Theosophical Society provided the framework for action within which some of its Indian and British members worked to form the Indian National Congress.10", "1884 annual convention of the Theosophical Society. At this convention, Rao argued that the Society should start formally to discuss the political situation in India as well as more strictly religious matters. Although Rao did not get his way, he did arrange a meeting of sympathetic theosophists to be held at his home. Those who attended this meeting with Rao included Aiyar, Ananda Charlu, and M. Viraraghavachariar. They formed the Madras Mahajana Sabha," "meeting to coincide with the next annual convention of the Theosophical Society. This meeting would promote their idea of an all-India body." "Hume was probably the single most important individual for the formation of the Indian National Congress." "Mahatmas seemed to be directing Hume to maintain the correct balance between east and west (Ripon Papers). Certainly Hume thought the Mahatmas were superhuman beings with a special interest in the welfare of India. He believed their occult powers meant they possessed an unquestionable knowledge of Indian affairs", "Hume worked alongside some of the people he had met at the annual conventions of the Theosophical Society—Malabari, Rao, and Sen—in order to arrange the founding conference of Congress.", "The founders of the Indian National Congress relied on the contacts and commitments generated within the Society;" "Gandhi, like Malabari, Rao, and Sen, used theosophy to help restore his pride in his native culture to support his vision of ancient India as a vital, rational, and moral society (Gandhi 1948). British occultists, such as Besant, and western-educated Indians, such as Gandhi, turned to theosophy for different reasons, but once they had done so, they shared practices and intellectual commitments that helped sustain the nationalist movement."
- ↑ http://www.rrtd.nic.in/biogovind.html
- ↑ Sitaramayya, B. Pattabhi. 1935. The History of the Indian National Congress. Working Committee of the Congress. Scanned version
- ↑ Jesudasan, Ignatius. A Gandhian theology of liberation. Gujarat Sahitya Prakash: Ananda India, 1987, pp 225.
- ↑ "Karunanidhi to become Tamil Nadu CM", The Times Of India, 12 May 2006.
- ↑ http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?270152
- ↑ http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?238938
- ↑ "India in 1975: Democracy in Eclipse", ND Palmer - Asian Survey, vol 16 no 5. Opening lines.
- ↑ Mustafa, Seema. "1984 Sikhs Massacres: Mother of All Cover-ups", Front page story, The Asian Age, 2005-08-09, pp. 1. Retrieved on 2008-12-30.
- ↑ Agal, Renu. "Justice delayed, justice denied", BBC News, 2005-08-11. Retrieved on 2008-12-30.
- ↑ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?issueid=89&id=39264&option=com_content&task=view§ionid=4
- ↑ http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/sep/23vir.htm
- ↑ 
- ↑ http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=2&theme=&usrsess=1&id=230673
- ↑ http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=2&theme=&usrsess=1&id=230659
- ↑ A Hindu backlash hits Sonia Gandhi - upiasiaonline.com
- ↑ Copy of diplomatic cable dated 23 December 2008 (10 December 2010). "US Embassy Cables: Mumbai Conspiracy Allegations 'Outrageous' – US Ambassador". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- ↑ Walsh, Declan WikiLeaks Fake Cables — Pakistani Newspapers Admit They Were Hoaxed — Papers Apologise to Readers for Publishing Anti-Indian Comments Alleged To Have Been Said by US Officials. The Guardian. URL accessed on 11 December 2010.
- ↑ 2G Spectrum Scam
- ↑ CBI-Congress Bureau of Investigation
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/article1544916.ece
- ↑ http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2008/0723/p25s10-wosc.html
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