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ABOUT CONGRESS PARTY

Indian National Congress

The Indian National Congress (Hindi: भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस) (abbreviated INC, and commonly known as the Congress) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian political spectrum. Founded in 1885 by members of the occultist movement Theosophical Society—Allan Octavian Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, Surendranath Banerjee, Monomohun Ghose, Mahadev Govind Ranade and William Wedderburn—the Indian National Congress became the leader of the Indian Independence Movement, with over 15 million members and over 70 million participants in its struggle against British rule in India. After independence in 1947, it became the nation's dominant political party, led by the Nehru-Gandhi family for the most part; major challenges for party leadership have only recently formed.

History

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.

Indian National Congress - Freedom Era

The Congress was founded by Indian and British members of the Theosophical Society movement, most notably A.O. Hume. It has been suggested that the idea was originally conceived in a private meeting of seventeen men after a Theosophical Convention held at Madras in December 1884. Hume took the initiative, and it was in March 1885 that the first notice was issued convening the first Indian National Union to meet at Poona the following December.

Founded in 1885 with the objective of obtaining a greater share in government for educated Indians, the Indian National Congress was initially not opposed to British rule. The Congress met once a year during December. Indeed, it was a Scotsman, Allan Octavian Hume, who brought about its first meeting in Bombay, with the approval of Lord Dufferin, the then-Viceroy.

Womesh Chandra Bannerjee was the first President of the INC. The first meeting was scheduled to be held in Pune, but due to a plague outbreak there, the meeting was later shifted to Bombay. The first session of the INC was held from 28–31 December 1885, and was attended by 72 delegates.

Within a few years, the demands of the INC became more radical in the face of constant opposition from the government, and the party became very active in the independence movement. By 1907 the party was split into two halves—the Garam Dal (literally "hot faction") of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, or Extremists, and the Naram Dal (literally "soft faction") of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, or Moderates—distinguished by their attitude towards the British. Under the influence of Tilak, the Congress became the first integrated mass organization in the country, bringing together millions of people against the British. The Indian National Congress was the only political party to provide harmony to all the sects of the Indian society.[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.

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. 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

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

Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–1964)

Gulzarilal Nanda (May–June 1964 and in January 1966)

Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964–1966)

Indira Gandhi (1966–1977, 1980–1984)

Rajiv Gandhi (1984–1989)

P.V. Narasimha Rao (1991–1996)

Manmohan Singh (2004–)

Formation of present Government of India

 

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.

List of current Congress Chief Ministers

Jarbom Gamlin - Arunachal Pradesh

Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy - Andhra Pradesh

Tarun Gogoi - Assam

Sheila Dikshit - Delhi

Digambar Kamat - Goa

Bhupinder Singh Hooda - Haryana

Prithviraj Chavan - Maharashtra

Okram Ibobi Singh - Manipur

Pu Lalthanhawla - Mizoram

Ashok Gehlot - Rajasthan

D.D. Lapang - Meghalaya

Oommen Chandy - Kerala

List of presidents of the party


Name of President

Life Span

Year of Presidency

Place of Conference

Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee

December 29, 1844–1906

1885

Bombay

Dadabhai Naoroji

September 4, 1825–1917

1886

Calcutta

Badruddin Tyabji

October 10, 1844–1906

1887

Madras

George Yule

1829–1892

1888

Allahabad

Sir William Wedderburn

1838–1918

1889

Bombay

Sir Pherozeshah Mehta

August 4, 1845–1915

1890

Calcutta

P. Anandacharlu

August 1843- 1908

1891

Nagpur

Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee

December 29, 1844–1906

1892

Allahabad

Dadabhai Naoroji

September 4, 1848–1925

1893

Lahore

Alfred Webb

1834–1908

1894

Madras

Surendranath Banerjea

November 10, 1848–1925

1895

Poona

Rahimtulla M. Sayani

April 5, 1847–1902

1896

Calcutta

Sir C. Sankaran Nair

July 11, 1857–1934

1897

Amraoti

Ananda Mohan Bose

September 23, 1847–1906

1898

Madras

Romesh Chunder Dutt

August 13, 1848–1909

1899

Lucknow

Sir Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar

December 2, 1855–1923

1900

Lahore

Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha

August 2, 1844–1936

1901

Calcutta

Surendranath Banerjea

November 10, 1825–1917

1902

Ahmedabad

Lalmohan Ghosh

1848–1909

1903

Madras

Sir Henry Cotton

1845–1915

1904

Bombay

Gopal Krishna Gokhale

May 9, 1866–1915

1905

Benares

Dadabhai Naoroji

September 4, 1825–1917

1906

Calcutta

Rashbihari Ghosh

December 23, 1845–1921

1907

Surat

Rashbihari Ghosh

December 23, 1845–1921

1908

Madras

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

December 25, 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

October 1, 1847–1933

1917

Calcutta

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

December 25, 1861–1946

1918

Delhi

Syed Hasan Imam

August 31, 1871–1933

1918

Bombay (Special Session)

Pandit Motilal Nehru

May 6, 1861- February 6, 1931

1919

Amritsar

Lala Lajpat Rai

January 28, 1865- November 17, 1928

1920

Calcutta (Special Session)

C. Vijayaraghavachariar

1852- April 19, 1944

1920

Nagpur

Hakim Ajmal Khan

1863- December 29, 1927

1921

Ahmedabad

Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das

November 5, 1870- June 16, 1925

1922

Gaya

Maulana Mohammad Ali

December 10, 1878- January 4, 1931

1923

Kakinada

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

1888- February 22, 1958

1923

Delhi (Special Session)

Mahatma Gandhi

October 2, 1869- January 30, 1948

1924

Belgaum

Sarojini Naidu

February 13, 1879- March 2, 1949

1925

Kanpur

S. Srinivasa Iyengar

September 11, 1874- May 19, 1941

1926

Gauhati

Dr. M A Ansari

December 25, 1880- May 10, 1936

1927

Madras

Pandit Motilal Nehru

May 6, 1861- February 6, 1931

1928

Calcutta

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

November 14, 1889- May 27, 1964

1929 & 30

Lahore

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

October 31, 1875- December 15, 1950

1931

Karachi

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

December 25, 1861–1946

1932

Delhi

Nellie Sengupta

1886–1973

1933

Calcutta

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

December 3, 1884- February 28, 1963

1934 & 35

Bombay

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

November 14, 1889- May 27, 1964

1936

Lucknow

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

January 23, 1897- ???

1938

Haripura

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

1888- February 22, 1958

1940-46

Ramgarh

Acharya J.B. Kripalani

1888- March 19, 1982

1947

Delhi

Dr Pattabhi Sitaraimayya

December 24, 1880- December 17, 1959

1948 & 49

Jaipur

Purushottam Das Tandon

August 1, 1882- July 1, 1961

1950

Nasik

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

November 14, 1889- May 27, 1964

1951 & 52

Delhi

U N Dhebar

September 21, 1905–1977

1955

Avadi

Indira Gandhi

November 19, 1917- October 31, 1984

1959

Delhi

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy

May 19, 1913- June 1, 1996

1960

Bangalore

K. Kamaraj

July 15, 1903- October 2, 1975

1964

Bhubaneswar

S. Nijalingappa

December 10, 1902- August 9, 2000

1968

Hyderabad

Jagjivan Ram

April 5, 1908- July 6, 1986

1970 & 71

Bombay

Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma

August 19, 1918- December 26, 1999

1972- 74

Calcutta

Dev Kant Baruah

February 22, 1914–1996

1975- 77

Chandigarh

Indira Gandhi

November 19, 1917- October 31, 1984

1978- 84

Delhi

Rajiv Gandhi

August 20, 1944- May 21, 1991

1985 -91

Bombay

P. V. Narasimha Rao

June 28, 1921- December 23, 2004

1992 -96

Tirupati

Sitaram Kesri

November 1919- October 24, 2000

1997 -98

Calcutta

Sonia Gandhi

December 9, 1946

1998–present(2010)

Calcutta

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AYUSH CHANDRA
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