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Indian National Congress (INC)

President: Sonia Gandhi

Basic Info

About,Indian National Congress

The Indian National Congress (Congress) is a broad-based political party in India. Founded in 1885, the Congress led India to independence from Great Britain,

After India's independence in 1947, the Congress formed most federal goverments in India, and many regional state governments.The Congress is a secular, left-of-centre, party. Although it did not fare well in the last general elections in India in 2014, it remains one of two major, nation-wide, politial parties in India, along with the right-wing, Hindu nationalist, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa.It was founded in Bombay in late December 1885, during the British Raj in India. Its principal founders were, Allan Octavian Hume (a former administrator of Etawah district, North-Western Provinces, and pioneering ornithologist of India), as well as William Wedderburn, Pherozeshah Mehta, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, and others.

From the late 19th-century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement, with over 15 million members and over 70 million participants.

From 2004 to 2014, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, a coalition of several regional parties, formed the Indian government and was headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. As of March 2017, the party is in power in five states: Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Mizoram. In Bihar, it is a part of the ruling coalition.

The Congress has previously directly ruled Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. In the 2014 general election, the Congress had its poorest post-independence general election performance, winning only 44 seats of the 543-member house.

Foundation of INC

The Congress was founded in December 1885 in Bombay. Its founding members included Allan Octavian Hume, who had chalked out the idea in an open letter to graduates of the University of Calcutta in 1883,as well as William Wedderburn, Pherozeshah Mehta, and others. Hume took the initiative, and in March 1885 the first notice convening the first Indian National Union to meet in Poona the following December was issued.
 
Its objective was to obtain a greater share in government for educated Indians and to create a platform for civic and political dialogue between educated Indians and the British Raj. The Congress met each December.
 
The first meeting was scheduled to be held in Poona, but due to a cholera outbreak there it was shifted to Bombay. Hume organised the first meeting in Bombay with the approval of the Viceroy Lord Dufferin. Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee was the first president of the Congress; the first session was held from 28–31 December 1885, and was attended by 72 delegates.
 
Representing each province of India, the Party's delegates comprised 54 Hindus and 2 Muslims; the rest were of Parsi and Jain backgrounds.
 

Party Description

Early Years of Indian National Congress

Within the next few years, the demands of the Congress became more radical in the face of constant opposition from the British government, and the party decided to advocate in favour of the independence movement because it would allow a new political system in which the Congress could be a major party.
 
By 1905, a division between the moderates led by Gokhale—who downplayed public agitation—and the new "extremists"who advocated agitation and regarded the pursuit of social reform as a distraction from nationalism—opened. Bal Gangadhar Tilak—who tried to mobilise Hindu Indians by appealing to an explicitly Hindu political identity displayed in the annual public Ganapati festivals he inaugurated in western India—was prominent among the extremists.
 
The Congress included a number of prominent political figures; Dadabhai Naoroji, a member of the sister Indian National Association was elected president of the party in 1886 and was the first Indian Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons (1892–95).
 
It also included 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.
 

INC In Mass Movement 

Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa in 1915. With the help of the moderate group led by Ghokhale, Gandhi became president of the Congress.After the First World War, the party became associated with Mahatma Gandhi, who remained its unofficial spiritual leader and icon.
 
He formed an alliance with the Khilafat Movement in 1920 to fight for preservation of Ottoman Caliphate and rights for Indians using using civil disobedience or Satyagraha as the tool for agitation. In 1923 following the deaths of policemen at Chauri Chaura, Gandhi suspended the agitation. In protest, a number of leaders, Chittaranjan Das, Annie Besant, and Motilal Nehru, resigned to set up the Swaraj Party. The Khilafat movement collapsed and the Congress was split.
 
The rise of Gandhi's popularity and his Satyagraha art of revolution led to support from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Khan Mohammad Abbas Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Chakravarti Rajgopalachari, Dr. Anugraha Narayan Sinha, Jayaprakash Narayan, Jivatram Kripalani, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
 
The prevailing nationalism, Gandhi's popularity, and polices aimed at eradicating caste differences, untouchability, poverty, and religious and ethnic divisions, the Congress became a forceful and dominant group. Although its members were predominantly Hindu, it had members from other religions, economic classes, and ethnic and linguistic groups.
 
At the Congress' 1929 Lahore session under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru, Purna Swaraj (complete independence) was declared as the party's goal, declaring 26 January 1930 as "Purna Swaraj Diwas", Independence Day. The same year, Srinivas Iyenger was expelled from the party for demanding full independence, not just home rule as demanded by Gandhi.
 
After the passage of the Government of India Act 1935, provincial elections were held in India in the winter of 1936–37. They were held in eleven provinces – Madrass, Central Provinces, Bihar, Orissa, United Provinces, Bombay Presidency, Assam, NWFP, Bengal, Punjab and Sindh.
 
After contesting these elections, the Indian National Congress gained power in eight of the provinces – the three exceptions were Bengal, Punjab, and Sindh. The All-India Muslim League failed to form the government in any province.The Congress ministries resigned in October and November 1939 in protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow's declaration that India was a belligerent in the Second World War without consulting the Indian people.
 
In 1946 Indian soldiers, who had fought alongside the Japanese during World War II, were tried by the British in the INA trials. In response the Congress helped to form the INA Defence Committee, which assembled a legal team to defend the case of the soldiers of the Azad Hind government.
 
The team included several famous lawyers, including Bhulabhai Desai, Asaf Ali, and Jawaharlal Nehru.The same year, Congress members initially supported the sailors who led the Royal Indian Navy mutiny, but they withdrew support at the critical juncture and the mutiny failed.
 

After Indepdence

After Indian independence in 1947, the Indian National Congress became the dominant political party in the country. In 1952, in the first general election held after Independence, the party swept to power in the national parliament and most state legislatures. The party held power nationally until 1977 when it was defeated by the Janata coalition.

It returned to power in 1980 and ruled until 1989, when it was once again defeated. It formed the government in 1991 at the head of a coalition, as well as in 2004 and 2009, when it led the United Progressive Alliance. During this period the Congress remained centre-left in its social policies while steadily shifting from a socialist to a neoliberal economic outlook. The Party's rivals at state level has been national parties the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), and various regional parties such as the Telugu Desam Party.

INC In Jawaharlal Nehru's Leadership(1947-1966)

From 1951 until his death in 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru was the Congress' paramount leader under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi, whose Indian independence movement dominated the Congress Party. Congress gained power in landslide victories in the general elections of 1951–52, 1957, and 1962.

During his tenure, Nehru implemented policies based on import substitution industrialisation and advocated a mixed economy, where the government-controlled public sector co-existed with the private sector.He believed the establishment of basic and heavy industries was fundamental to the development and modernisation of the Indian economy.

During his period in office, there were four known assassination attempts on Nehru.The first attempt on his life was during partition in 1947 while he was visiting North-West Frontier Province in a car. The second was by a knife-wielding rickshaw-puller in Maharashtra in 1955.

The third attempt happened in Bombay in 1956.The fourth was a failed bombing attempt on railway tracks in Maharashtra in 1961.Despite threats to his life, Nehru despised having excess security personnel around him and did not like his movements to disrupt traffic.In 1964, Nehru died because of an aortic dissection, raising questions about the party's future.

After Nehru's death, K. Kamaraj became the president of the All India Congress Committee.Kamaraj had also been involved in the Indian independence movement and he introduced education to millions of the rural poor by providing free education along with a free midday meal, when he was chief minister of Tamil Nadu (1954–63).
 
As a member of "the syndicate", a group within the Congress, he proposed the Kamaraj Plan that encouraged six Congress chief ministers and six senior cabinet ministers to resign to take up party work.
 
Kamaraj was widely credited as the "kingmaker" in Indian politics for bringing Lal Bahadur Shastri to power in 1964.No leader except Shastri had Nehru's popular appeal.Shastri became a national hero following the victory in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
 
His slogan, "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan" ("Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer"), became very popular during the war.Shastri retained many members of Nehru's Council of Ministers; T. T. Krishnamachari was retained as the Finance Minister of India, as was Defence Minister Yashwantrao Chavan.Shastri appointed Swaran Singh to succeed him as External Affairs Minister.Shashtri appointed Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru's daughter and former party president, Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
 
Gulzarilal Nanda continued as the Minister of Home Affairs.As Prime Minister, Shastri continued Nehru's policy of non-alignment but built closer relations with the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the Sino-Indian War of 1962, and the formation of military ties between the China and Pakistan, Shastri's government expanded the defence budget of India's armed forces.
 
He also promoted the White Revolution – a national campaign to increase the production and supply of milk by creating National Dairy Development Board.
 
The Madras anti-Hindi agitation of 1965 occurred during Shastri's tenure.On 11 January 1966, a day after signing the Tashkent Declaration, Shastri died in Tashkent, reportedly of a heart attack but the circumstances of his death remain mysterious.
 

INC In Indira Gandhi's Leadership(1966-84)

After Shastri's death, the Congress elected Indira Gandhi as leader over Morarji Desai. Once again, politician K. Kamaraj was instrumental in achieving this result. In 1967, following a poor performance in the general election, Indira Gandhi started moving towards the political left.
 
In 1969, she was in dispute with senior party leaders on a number of issues; the party president S. Nijalingappa expelled her from the Congress.Gandhi launched her own faction of the IRC, retaining the support of most of the Congress MPs, 65 of which supported the original party.
 
In the mid-term parliamentary elections held in 1971, the Gandhi-led Congress (R) Party won a landslide victory on a platform of progressive policies such as the elimination of poverty (Garibi Hatao).The policies of the Congress (R) Party under Gandhi before the 1971 elections included proposals to abolish the Privy Purse to former rulers of the Princely states and the 1969 nationalisation of the 14 largest banks in India.
 
Indira Gandhi, second-longest-serving Prime Minister of India and the only woman to hold the office
In the mid-1970s, the New Congress Party's popular support began to wane. From 1975, Gandhi's government grew increasingly more authoritarian and unrest among the opposition grew. On 12 June 1975, the High Court of Allahabad declared Indira Gandhi's election to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's parliament, void on the grounds of electoral malpractice.
 
However, Gandhi rejected calls to resign and announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. She moved to restore order by ordering the arrest of most of the opposition participating in the unrest. In response to increasing disorder and lawlessness, Gandhi's cabinet and government recommended that President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declare a State of Emergency, which he declared on 25  June 1975 based on the provisions of Article 352 of the Constitution.
 
During the nineteen-month emergency, widespread oppression and abuse of power by Gandhi's unelected younger son and political heir Sanjay Gandhi and his close associates occurred.This period of oppression ended on 23 January 1977, when Gandhi released all political prisoners and called fresh elections to the Lok Sabha to be held in March.
 
The Emergency officially ended on 23 March 1977;in that month's parliamentary elections, the opposition Janata Party Won a landslide victory over the Congress, winning 295 seats in the Lok Sabha against the Congress' 153. Gandhi lost her seat to her Janata opponent, Raj Narain. On 2 January 1978, she and her followers seceded and formed a new opposition party, popularly called Congress (I)—the I signifying Indira. During the next year, her new party attracted enough members of the legislature to become the official opposition.
 
In November 1978, Gandhi regained a parliamentary seat. In January 1980, following a landslide victory for the Congress (I), she was again elected prime minister.The national election commission declared Congress (I) to be the real Indian National Congress for 1984 general election and the designation I was dropped.
 
During Gandhi's new term as prime minister, her youngest son Sanjay died in an aeroplane crash in June 1980.This led her to encourage her elder son Rajiv, who was working as a pilot, to enter politics. Gradually, Indira Gandhi's politics and outlook grew more authoritarian and autocratic, and she became the central figure of the Congress. As prime minister, she became known for her political ruthlessness and unprecedented centralisation of power.
 
Gandhi's term as prime minister also saw increasing turmoil in Punjab with demands for Sikh autonomy by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his militant followers.In 1983, they headquartered themselves in the Golden Temple in Amritsar and started accumulating weapons.In June 1984, after several futile negotiations, Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to enter the Golden Temple to establish control over the temple complex and remove Bhindranwale and his armed followers. This event is known as Operation Blue Star.
 
On 31 October 1984, two of Gandhi's bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, shot her with their service weapons in the garden of the prime minister's residence in response to her authorisation of Operation Blue Star.Gandhi was due to be interviewed by the British actor Peter Ustinov, who was filming a documentary for Irish television.Her assassination prompted the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, during which more than 3,000 people were killed.
 

INC In Rajiv Gandhi's Leadership(1985-98)

In 1984, Indira Gandhi's son Rajiv Gandhi became nominal head of the Congress and became prime minister upon her assassination.In December, he led the Congress to a landslide victory, in which it secured 401 seats in the legislature.His administration took measures to reform the government bureaucracy and liberalise the country's economy.
 
Rajiv Gandhi's attempts to discourage separatist movements in Punjab and Kashmir backfired. After his government became embroiled in several financial scandals, his leadership became increasingly ineffectual.Gandhi was regarded as a non-abrasive person who consulted other party members and refrained from hasty decisions.
 
The Bofors scandal damaged his image as an honest politician but he was posthumously cleared of bribery allegations in 2004.On 21 May 1991, Gandhi was killed by a bomb concealed in a basket of flowers carried by a woman associated with the Tamil Tigers.He was campaigning in Tamil Nadu for upcoming parliamentary elections. In 1998, an Indian court convicted 26 people in the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhi.
 
The conspirators, who consisted of Tamil militants from Sri Lanka and their Indian allies, had sought revenge against Gandhi because the Indian troops he sent to Sri Lanka in 1987 to help enforce a peace accord there had fought with Tamil separatist guerrillas.
 
P. V. Narasimha Rao served as the tenth Prime Minister of India (1991–96). He was the first prime minister from South India and the state of Andhra Pradesh.
 
Rajiv Gandhi was succeeded as party leader by P. V. Narasimha Rao, who was elected prime minister in June 1991.His rise to the prime ministership was politically significant because he was the first holder of this office from South India. His administration oversaw a major economic change and several home incidents that affected India's national security.
 
Rao, who held the Industries portfolio, was personally responsible for the dismantling of the Licence Raj, which came under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.He is often referred to as the "father of Indian economic reforms".
 
By 1996, the party's image was suffering from allegations of corruption, and in elections that year the Congress was reduced to 140 seats, its lowest number in the Lok Sabha to that point, becoming parliament's second largest party. Rao later resigned as prime minister and, in September, as party president.He was succeeded as president by Sitaram Kesri, the party's first non-Brahmin leader.
 

INC In Sonia Gandhi's Leadership

In the 1998 general election, the Congress won 141 seats in the Lok Sabha, its lowest tally until then. To boost its popularity and improve its performance in the forthcoming election, Congress leaders urged Sonia Gandhi – widow of Rajiv Gandhi – to assume the leadership of the party. She had previously declined offers to become actively involved in party affairs and had hitherto stayed away from politics.
 
After her election as party leader, a section of the party that objected to the choice because of her Italian ethnicity broke away and formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), led by Sharad Pawar.
 
The breakaway faction commanded strong support in the state of Maharashtra and limited support elsewhere. The remainder continued to be known as the Indian National Congress.
 
Sonia Gandhi's appointment initially failed to have an impact; in the snap polls called by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 1999, the Congress won 114 seats – its lowest tally ever. The leadership structure was unaltered and the party campaigned strongly in the assembly elections that followed. At these elections the party was successful; at one point, the Congress ruled 15 states.
 
In the 2004 general election, the Congress forged an alliance with several regional parties, including the NCP and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
 
The party's campaign emphasised social inclusion and the welfare of common people, contrasting with the NDA's "India Shining" campaign that sought to highlight the successes of the NDA government in making India into a "modern nation".The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won 222 seats in the new parliament, defeating the NDA by a substantial margin. With the support of the communist front, the Congress won a majority and formed the new government.
 
Despite massive support from within the Party, Gandhi declined the post of prime minister, choosing to appoint Manmohan Singh instead. She remained as party president and headed the National Advisory Council (NAC).
 
By the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party had lost much of its popular support, mainly because of several years of poor economic conditions in the country and growing discontent over a series of corruption allegations involving government officials, including the 2G spectrum scam and the Indian coal allocation scam.The Congress won only 44 seats,which was its worst-ever performance in a national election that brought into question whether it would continue to be identified as an officially recognised party.

Indian National Congress's Leaders