Indian National Congress

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Indian National Congress
ChairpersonSonia Gandhi
Parliamentary ChairpersonSonia Gandhi
Leader in Rajya SabhaManmohan Singh
(Prime Minister)
Headquarters24, Akbar Road,
New Delhi, 110011
NewspaperCongress Sandesh
Student wingNational Students Union of India
Youth wingIndian Youth Congress
Women's wingMahila Congress
Labour wingIndian National Trade Union Congress
Indian Nationalism
(Liberal nationalism)
Social democracy
Democratic socialism
Gandhian socialism
Internal factions:
 • Social liberalism
 • Secularism
 • Centrism
 • Social conservatism
Political positionCenter-left[1]
International affiliationAlliance of Democrats[2]
Official coloursAqua
ECI StatusNational Party
AllianceUnited Progressive Alliance (UPA)
Seats in Lok Sabha
205 / 545
Seats in Rajya Sabha
70 / 245
Election symbol
INC party symbol
Politics of India
Political parties
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Indian National Congress
ChairpersonSonia Gandhi
Parliamentary ChairpersonSonia Gandhi
Leader in Rajya SabhaManmohan Singh
(Prime Minister)
Headquarters24, Akbar Road,
New Delhi, 110011
NewspaperCongress Sandesh
Student wingNational Students Union of India
Youth wingIndian Youth Congress
Women's wingMahila Congress
Labour wingIndian National Trade Union Congress
Indian Nationalism
(Liberal nationalism)
Social democracy
Democratic socialism
Gandhian socialism
Internal factions:
 • Social liberalism
 • Secularism
 • Centrism
 • Social conservatism
Political positionCenter-left[1]
International affiliationAlliance of Democrats[2]
Official coloursAqua
ECI StatusNational Party
AllianceUnited Progressive Alliance (UPA)
Seats in Lok Sabha
205 / 545
Seats in Rajya Sabha
70 / 245
Election symbol
INC party symbol
Politics of India
Political parties
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Indian National Congress
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History of Congress  · Pradesh Congress Committee  · All India Congress Committee  · Congress Working Committee  · Congress President  · Central Election Committee  · Statewise Election history of Congress Party

The Indian National Congress (abbreviated INC, and commonly known as the Congress) (Bhāratīya Rāṣṭrīya Kāṅgrēsa) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world.[3][4][5] 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[6]Allan Octavian Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, Surendranath Banerjee, Monomohun Ghose, Mahadev Govind Ranade[7] 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 205 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:

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.[citation needed]

The pre-independence era

First session of Indian National Congress, Bombay, 28–31, December, 1885.

The Congress was founded by Indian and British members of the Theosophical Society movement, most notably A.O. Hume.[6] 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.[8]

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 Bonnerjee 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.[citation needed]

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 Swadeshi 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.

Mahatma Gandhi, President of Congress party during 1924

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, Dr. Anugraha Narayan Sinha, Jayaprakash Narayan, 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 Mohandas K. 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.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Congress Prime Minister of India (1947–1964).

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.[9] 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.[citation needed]

After the Gandhi's assassination 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.

K. Kamaraj

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.

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi, thrice Prime Minister of India.

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) (INC(O)) 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 electoral malpractice in the general elections, a court overturned Gandhi's victory in her parliamentary constituency in 1971 General Elections. Facing growing criticism and widespread demonstrations by opposition in the country, she proclaimed a state of National Emergency in 1975, imprisoned most of Opposition leaders, 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 the disastrous Operation Blue Star. In the following days anti-Sikh riots broke out in Delhi and elsewhere in which more than six thousand Sikhs were killed, (mostly in Delhi), allegedly by activists and leaders of the Congress Party.

The post-Indira era

Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance and President of Indian National Congress

Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, the Indian National Congress party leaders nominated Rajiv Gandhi to be the next Prime Minister. He took office by storm, winning major election victory, and leading the Congress party by winning 411 seats out of 542, in the Indian Parliament. He helped improve the economic, foreign and security policies of the country, during his tenure.

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 to 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 National Democratic Alliance (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 from the Congress Party

Formation of present government

A Congress rally in New Delhi.

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 Bihari 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 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. 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[citation needed]. The Congress's popularity increased by 61% during the elections[citation needed].

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 strongly believes in eradicating poverty, illiteracy and strongly supports the weaker section of the society.

Social policy

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.

Economic policy

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.

Foreign policy

Traditionally, nonalignment has been the bedrock of the foreign policy of the INC.

Internal organization

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 (PCC), 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 (AICC) 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 (CPP) 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[vague] 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 Pradesh (States)

Congress in various states

Congress Ruled States in Green

List of current Congress Chief Ministers

List of presidents of the party

Name of PresidentLife SpanYear of PresidencyPlace of Conference
Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee29 December 1844– 19061885Bombay
Dadabhai Naoroji4 September 1825– 19171886Calcutta
Badruddin Tyabji10 October 1844– 19061887Madras
George Yule1829–18921888Allahabad
Sir William Wedderburn1838–19181889Bombay
Sir Pherozeshah Mehta4 August 1845– 19151890Calcutta
P. AnandacharluAugust 1843– 19081891Nagpur
Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee29 December 1844– 19061892Allahabad
Dadabhai Naoroji4 September 1825– 19171893Lahore
Alfred Webb1834–19081894Madras
Surendranath Banerjea10 November 1848– 19251895Pune
Rahimtulla M. Sayani5 April 1847– 19021896Calcutta
Sir C. Sankaran Nair11 July 1857– 19341897Amraoti
Ananda Mohan Bose23 September 1847– 19061898Madras
Romesh Chunder Dutt13 August 1848– 19091899Lucknow
Sir Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar2 December 1855– 19231900Lahore
Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha2 August 1844– 19361901Calcutta
Surendranath Banerjea10 November 1825– 19171902Ahmedabad
Lalmohan Ghosh1848–19091903Madras
Sir Henry Cotton1845–19151904Bombay
Gopal Krishna Gokhale9 May 1866– 19151905Benares
Dadabhai Naoroji4 September 1825– 19171906Calcutta
Rashbihari Ghosh23 December 1845– 19211907Surat
Rashbihari Ghosh23 December 1845– 19211908Madras
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya25 December 1861– 19461909Lahore
Sir William Wedderburn1838–19181910Allahabad
Pandit Bishan Narayan Dar1864–19161911Calcutta
Rao Bahadur Raghunath Narasinha Mudholkar1857–19211912Bankipur
Nawab Syed Muhammad Bahadur ?- 19191913Karachi
Bhupendra Nath Bose1859–19241914Madras
Lord Satyendra Prasanna SinhaMarch 1863– 19281915Bombay
Ambica Charan Mazumdar1850–19221916Lucknow
Annie Besant1 October 1847– 19331917Calcutta
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya25 December 1861– 19461918Delhi
Syed Hasan Imam31 August 1871– 19331918Bombay (Special Session)
Pandit Motilal Nehru6 May 1861– 6 February 19311919Amritsar
Lala Lajpat Rai28 January 1865– 17 November 19281920Calcutta (Special Session)
C. Vijayaraghavachariar1852– 19 April 19441920Nagpur
Hakim Ajmal Khan1863– 29 December 19271921Ahmedabad
Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das5 November 1870– 16 June 19251922Gaya
Maulana Mohammad Ali10 December 1878– 4 January 19311923Kakinada
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad1888– 22 February 19581923Delhi (Special Session)
Mahatma Gandhi2 October 1869– 30 January 19481924Belgaum
Sarojini Naidu13 February 1879– 2 March 19491925Kanpur
S. Srinivasa IyengarSeptember 11, 1874– 19 May 19411926Gauhati
Dr. M A Ansari25 December 1880– 10 May 19361927Madras
Pandit Motilal Nehru6 May 1861– 6 February 19311928Calcutta
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru14 November 1889– 27 May 19641929 & 30Lahore
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel31 October 1875– 15 December 19501931Karachi
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya25 December 1861– 19461932Delhi
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya25 December 1861– 19461933Calcutta
Nellie Sengupta1886–19731933Calcutta
Dr. Rajendra Prasad3 December 1884– 28 February 19631934 & 35Bombay
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru14 November 1889– 27 May 19641936Lucknow
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru14 November 1889– 27 May 19641936& 37Faizpur
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose23 January 1897– Unknown[10]1938Haripura
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose23 January 1897– Unknown[11]1939Jabalpur
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad1888– 22 February 19581940–46Ramgarh
Acharya J.B. Kripalani1888– 19 March 19821947Delhi
Dr Pattabhi Sitaraimayya24 December 1880– 17 December 19591948 & 49Jaipur
Purushottam Das Tandon1 August 1882– 1 July 19611950Nasik
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru14 November 1889– 27 May 19641951 & 52Delhi
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru14 November 1889– 27 May 19641953Hyderabad
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru14 November 1889– 27 May 19641954Kalyani
U N Dhebar21 September 1905– 19771955Avadi
U N Dhebar21 September 1905– 19771956Amritsar
U N Dhebar21 September 1905– 19771957Indore
U N Dhebar21 September 1905– 19771958Gauhati
U N Dhebar21 September 1905– 19771959Nagpur
Indira Gandhi19 November 1917– 31 October 19841959Delhi
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy19 May 1913– 1 June 19961960Bangalore
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy19 May 1913– 1 June 19961961Bhavnagar
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy19 May 1913– 1 June 19961962 & 63Patna
K. Kamaraj15 July 1903– 2 October 19751964Bhubaneswar
K. Kamaraj15 July 1903– 2 October 19751965Durgapur
K. Kamaraj15 July 1903– 2 October 19751966 & 67Jaipur
S. Nijalingappa10 December 1902– 9 August 20001968Hyderabad
S. Nijalingappa10 December 1902– 9 August 20001969Faridabad
Jagjivan Ram5 April 1908– 6 July 19861970 & 71Bombay
Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma19 August 1918– 26 December 19991972– 74Calcutta
Dev Kant Baruah22 February 1914– 19961975– 77Chandigarh
Indira Gandhi19 November 1917– 31 October 19841978– 83Delhi
Indira Gandhi19 November 1917– 31 October 19841983 -84Calcutta
Rajiv Gandhi20 August 1944– 21 May 19911985 -91Bombay
P. V. Narasimha Rao28 June 1921– 23 December 20041992 -96Tirupati
Sitaram KesriNovember 1919– 24 October 20001997 -98Kolkata
Sonia Gandhi9 December 1946–1998–presentKolkata

2009 general elections

The Indian National Congress-led coalition United Progressive Alliance (UPA), headed by 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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14]

1984 anti-Sikh riots

After the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two 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"[15][16] 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.

Bofors scandal

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.[17]

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.[18]

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.[19]

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."[20] 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."[21]

Allegations of religious bias

Pro Islamic Bias

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and also many right-wing Hindus have repeatedly accused the Congress Party and its allies of being pro-Muslim, pro-Islam supporting Sharia Laws and showing unnatural favouritism to the Indian Muslim community and toleration, or even promotion of Islamic conservatism and Obscurantism.[citation needed]

The Congress party and its 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.[22]

"Secular" and "Marxist" revisions of textbooks

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and previous Congress-led governments have been accused of revising history textbooks to present a Marxist bias, and whitewashing the record of Atrocities committed by Muslim Emperors and Kings on Hindus during six-hundred years of Islamic Rule over India in order to textbooks and acquire Muslim votes. The Congress in term maintains that it wished to create a sense of communal harmony among the young generations.[citation needed]

Softness shown towards religious extremism and terrorism

The BJP have often accused Congress party and their allies of being soft on Islamic extremism, Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic terrorism and Islamism by scrapping Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) immediately after it won the elections in 2004. Such senior leaders of BJP as Nitin Gadkari and Narendra Modi have accused Congress Party of being soft on Indian terrorist groups such as Indian Mujahideen for the sake of vote bank politics.[23][24]

Congress and its allies are accused by its political rival BJP for ignoring the plea of Kashmiri Pandits for action against Islamic terrorists in Kashmir and solely focusing on the issues of the Indian Muslim community to gain Muslim votes. Kashmiri Pandits have been in exile since January 1990 following the outbreak of terrorism in Kashmir.[25]

Rejection of a Uniform Civil Code in India by Congress

Congress has been accused of deliberately fragmenting Hindus while consolidating conservative Muslim votes (by opposing the Uniform Civil Code and allowing Muslims a separate personal code, etc.) However, even the strongest opposition party – the BJP was unable to usher in the Uniform Civil Code, primarily because a majority of political parties allied with the BJP, including BJP's own party members, during the NDA government, were not in favor of such a move.[citation needed]

2G spectrum scam

The scam was bought into limelight in 2010 when case filed against Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja had been reported. 2G licenses were issued to private telecom players at throwaway prices in 2008. The CAG estimated on the basis of 3G auction that the 2G Spectrum scam had cost the government Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. Rules and procedures were flouted while issuing licenses.[26] The CBI in the Supreme Court has since indicated that the factual loss is around Rs 30 000 crore.[27]

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".[28]

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[29] in order to help the party narrowly survive a no-confidence motion.[30]

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.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Strong Victory For Center-Left Congress Party In India—World’s Two Largest Democracies Now Firmly Reject Conservatives, Texas Liberal,
  2. ^ Political Parties, International Organizations and Individuals joining the Alliance of Democrats, Alliance of Democrats
  3. ^ The nature and dynamics of factional conflict(p.69)By P. N. Rastogi
  4. ^ Parliamentary debates, Volume 98, Issues 1–9(p.111) Published by Parliament of India-Rajya Sabha
  5. ^ Indian National Congress: a select bibliography By Manikrao Hodlya Gavit, Attar Chand
  6. ^ a b 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."
  7. ^ Mahadev Govind Ranade
  8. ^ Sitaramayya, B. Pattabhi. 1935. The History of the Indian National Congress. Working Committee of the Congress. Scanned version
  9. ^ Jesudasan, Ignatius. A Gandhian theology of liberation. Gujarat Sahitya Prakash: Ananda India, 1987, pp 225.
  10. ^ Disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose
  11. ^ Disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose
  12. ^ It’s A Bit Too Transparent | Outlook
  13. ^ Godse's War | Saikat Datta
  14. ^ "India in 1975: Democracy in Eclipse", ND Palmer – Asian Survey, vol 16 no 5. Opening lines.
  15. ^ Mustafa, Seema (2005-08-09). "1984 Sikhs Massacres: Mother of All Cover-ups". Front page story (The Asian Age): p. 1. 
  16. ^ Agal, Renu (2005-08-11). "Justice delayed, justice denied". BBC News. 
  17. ^ [1][dead link]
  18. ^ Rediff On The NeT: Vir Sanghvi looks back at the Bofors scandal
  19. ^ "I-T Tribunal nails Chadha, Quattrocchi". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 4 January 2011. 
  20. ^ [2][dead link]
  21. ^ [3][dead link]
  22. ^ A Hindu backlash hits Sonia Gandhi–[dead link]
  23. ^ IndianExpress. "Gadkari says Cong soft on terror for votebank politics". 
  24. ^ Economic Times (14 September 2008). "Modi says Cong soft on terror". The Times Of India. 
  25. ^ ndtv. "21 years of exile for Kashmiri Pandits". 
  26. ^ 2G Spectrum Scam
  27. ^ The truth in the 2G scam is slowly emerging
  28. ^ CBI-Congress Bureau of Investigation
  29. ^ a b "162458: Cash-for-votes ahead of confidence motion". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 17 March 2011. 
  30. ^ Indian government survives no-confidence vote –


Further reading

External links