Indian National Congress

Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
Parliamentary Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
Leader in Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee
(Finance Minister)
Leader in Rajya Sabha Manmohan Singh
(Prime Minister)
Founded 1885
Headquarters 24, Akbar Road,
New Delhi, 110011
Newspaper Congress Sandesh
Student wing National Students Union of India
Youth wing Indian Youth Congress
Women's wing Mahila Congress
Labour wing Indian National Trade Union Congress
Ideology Populism
Indian Nationalism
(Liberal nationalism)
Social liberalism
Democratic socialism
Social democracy
Third Way
Social Populism
Political position Center-left[1]
International affiliation Alliance of Democrats[2]
Official colours Aqua
ECI Status National Party
Alliance United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
Seats in Lok Sabha
205 / 545
Seats in Rajya Sabha
70 / 250
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 (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.[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:

  • 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

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 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.[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 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.

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, 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.

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.

After the Gandhi's assassiantion 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) 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 Capital 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

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 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

Formation of present Government of India

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 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. 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

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 various states

Congress Ruled States in Green

List of current Congress Chief Ministers

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 Bombay
Dadabhai Naoroji 4 September 1825- 1917 1886 Calcutta
Badruddin Tyabji 10 October 1844- 1906 1887 Madras
George Yule 1829–1892 1888 Allahabad
Sir William Wedderburn 1838–1918 1889 Bombay
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
Alfred Webb 1834–1908 1894 Madras
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
Lalmohan Ghosh 1848–1909 1903 Madras
Sir Henry Cotton 1845–1915 1904 Bombay
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 Bombay
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 Bombay (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
Nellie Sengupta 1886–1973 1933 Calcutta
Dr. Rajendra Prasad 3 December 1884- 28 February 1963 1934 & 35 Bombay
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 Bombay
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 Bombay
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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

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"[14][15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

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."[19] 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."[20]

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 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.[21]

"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 and many Indian Hindus 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. It has also been accused of being soft on Indian terrorist groups like Indian Mujahideen.[citation needed]Meanwhile, Indian Muslims and Christians have criticized the Congress of being soft on Saffron terror and of failing to bring to justice various Hindu extremists who have carried out anti-Muslim and anti-Christian pogroms in various states. The same words were repeated by the banned terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen in claiming responsibility for the 2011 Delhi Bombing.[22]

Congress and its allies are often accused of 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.[citation needed]

The Congress-led UPA government has been accused by both Hindu and Christian organizations[23] for completely ignoring the Love Jihad[24] activity allegedly perpetrated by and Islamic party Popular Front of India and its umbrella organizations under which young Muslim boys in Kerala and coastal Karnataka reportedly target college girls belonging to Hindu and Christian communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love. It has been reported that the Congress government is calling the Love Jihad activity as dubious and the allegations by Hindu and Christian organizations as un-secular for the fear of losing Muslim votes. It has been reported that local Muslim politicians have been silently supporting and promoting the 'Love Jihad' campaign in Kerala and Karnataka. Instead of taking action against the Popular Front of India (the alleged perpertrators of Love Jihad[25]), the Congress party criticisedKerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan for speaking against it and trying to break the Secular Fabric of India by hurting the sentiments of Muslims.[26]

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 owing to the fact that 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]

Alleging the role of Hindu extremist groups in 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks

In 2010, the Internet whistleblower organization Wikileaks released documents attesting to the Indian National Congress suggesting the involvement of right-wing Hindu groups in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.[27] 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"[28]. The party's stand on this conspiracy theory kept on changing. The main point put forth was that Hemant Karkare , Maharashtra ATS Chief, had been gunned down by Hindu extremists who used the 26th November Mumbai attacks as a cover. Karkare had led the investigation into the September 2008 Malegaon blasts which claimed the lives of six people. Initially the police suspected Muslim terrorists. However, authorities recently arrested eleven Hindus, including an Indian Army Lieutenant Colonel. Police identified five of those arrested as having ties to the BJP's youth wing in their earlier years. Two others had ties to a recent addition to the Sangh Parivar family of Hindu nationalist organizations.[29]

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.[30]

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".[31]

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[32] in order to help the party narrowly survive a no-confidence motion.[33]

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.[32]

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. ^
  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. ^ "Karunanidhi to become Tamil Nadu CM". The Times Of India. 12 May 2006. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "India in 1975: Democracy in Eclipse", ND Palmer - Asian Survey, vol 16 no 5. Opening lines.
  14. ^ Mustafa, Seema (2005-08-09). "1984 Sikhs Massacres: Mother of All Cover-ups". Front page story (The Asian Age): pp. 1. 
  15. ^ Agal, Renu (2005-08-11). "Justice delayed, justice denied". BBC News. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "I-T Tribunal nails Chadha, Quattrocchi". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 4 January 2011. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ A Hindu backlash hits Sonia Gandhi–
  22. ^
  23. ^ Jihad' racket: VHP, Christian groups find common cause
  24. ^ 'Love jihad' raises alert in Karnataka, Kerala
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Walsh, Declan (10 December 2010). "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 (London). Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  29. ^ Walsh, Declan (10 December 2010). "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 (London). Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  30. ^ 2G Spectrum Scam
  31. ^ CBI-Congress Bureau of Investigation
  32. ^ a b "162458: Cash-for-votes ahead of confidence motion". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 17 March 2011. 
  33. ^


  • Bipan Chandra, Amales Tripathi, Barun De. Freedom Struggle. India: National Book Struggle. ISBN 81-237-0249-X.

Further reading

  • The Indian National Congress: An Historical Sketch, by Frederick Marion De Mello. Published by H. Milford, Oxford university press, 1934.
  • The Indian National Congress, by Hemendra Nath Das Gupta. Published by J. K. Das Gupta, 1946.
  • Indian National Congress: A Descriptive Bibliography of India's Struggle for Freedom, by Jagdish Saran Sharma. Published by S. Chand, 1959.
  • Social Factors in the Birth and Growth of the Indian National Congress Movement, by Ramparkash Dua. Published by S. Chand, 1967.
  • Split in a Predominant Party: The Indian National Congress in 1969, by Mahendra Prasad Singh. Abhinav Publications, 1981. ISBN 81-7017-140-7.
  • Concise History of the Indian National Congress, 1885-1947, by B. N. Pande, Nisith Ranjan Ray, Ravinder Kumar, Manmath Nath Das. Published by Vikas Pub. House, 1985. ISBN 0-7069-3020-7.
  • The Indian National Congress: An Analytical Biography, by Om P. Gautam. Published by B.R. Pub. Corp., 1985.
  • A Century of Indian National Congress, 1885-1985, by Pran Nath Chopra, Ram Gopal, Moti Lal Bhargava. Published by Agam Prakashan, 1986.
  • The Congress Ideology and Programme, 1920-1985, by Pitambar Datt Kaushik . Published by Gitanjali Pub. House, 1986. ISBN 81-85060-16-9.
  • Struggling and Ruling: The Indian National Congress, 1885-1985, by Jim Masselos. Published by Sterling Publishers, 1987.
  • The Encyclopedia of Indian National Congress, by A. Moin Zaidi, Shaheda Gufran Zaidi, Indian Institute of Applied Political Research. Published by S.Chand, 1987.
  • Indian National Congress: A Reconstruction, by Iqbal Singh, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Published by Riverdale Company, 1988. ISBN 0-913215-32-5.
  • INC, the Glorious Tradition, by A. Moin Zaidi, Indian National Congress. AICC. Published by Indian Institute of Applied Political Research, 1989.
  • Indian National Congress: A Select Bibliography, by Manikrao Hodlya Gavit, Attar Chand. Published by U.D.H. Pub. House, 1989. ISBN 81-85044-05-8.
  • The Story of Congress Pilgrimage: 1885-1985, by A. Moin Zaidi, Indian National Congress. Published by Indian Institute of Applied Political Research, 1990. ISBN 81-85355-46-0. (7 vols)
  • Indian National Congress in England, by Harish P. Kaushik. Published by Friends Publications, 1991.
  • Women in Indian National Congress, 1921-1931, by Rajan Mahan. Published by Rawat Publications, 1999.
  • History of Indian National Congress, 1885-2002, by Deep Chand Bandhu. Published by Kalpaz Publications, 2003. ISBN 81-7835-090-4.

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