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Indian National Congress

Indian National Congress, Congress-I (also known as the Congress Party and abbreviated
INC) is a major political party in India. Created in 1885 by A. O. Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji and
Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha, the Indian National Congress became the nation's leader in the
Independence Movement, with over 15 million Indians involved in its organizations and over 70
million participants in its struggle against the British Empire. During this phase, it functioned not
so much as a political party than as a forum for Indians and their British supporters to express to
the colonial authorities their views, opinions and to assert India’s right to self-determination.
After independence in 1947, it became the nation's dominant political party, in power from 1947
until 1977, then from 1980 to 1999, 1991 to 1996 and winning the 2004 general election. In the
14th Lok Sabha (2004-2009), 145 INC members, the largest contingent amongst all parties, serve
in the house. The party is currently the chief member of the ruling United Progressive Alliance
coalition supported by the Left Front. Famous members include Annie Besant, its first woman
INC President, Mahatma Gandhi (President in 1924) and Sarojini Naidu, the first Indian woman
President (1925) and the first woman State Governor and India’s first woman Prime Minister,
Indira Gandhi.

 1 History
 2 The pre-independence era
 3 The post-independence era
o 3.1 Jawaharlal Nehru
o 3.2 Indira Gandhi
o 3.3 The post-Indira era
o 3.4 Indian Prime Ministers from the Congress Party
o 3.5 Political accusations
 4 Formation of 2004 Government of India
 5 Internal organization
 6 List of presidents of the Party
 7 Notes
 8 References
 9 Credits

The INC has traditionally tried to bridge communitarian divides, regarding the secular principle
as most appropriate for a multi-religious state. Concern for maintaining communal harmony had
led to criticism of favoring minorities, especially Muslims. On the one hand, Congress is closely
identified with pride in India’s cultural legacy. On the other, it has promoted women’s rights and
social reform in such areas as untouchability and economic empowerment, tending towards
socialist principles.[1] The Congress has also had electoral success in many Indian states,
controlling the majority of state governments for the first 20 years of independence.
The history of the Indian National Congress falls into two distinct eras:

 The pre-independence era, when the organization was at the forefront of the struggle for
 The post-independence era, when as a political party Congress enjoyed a prominent place
in Indian politics, ruling the country for 48 of the 60 years since independence in 1947.

The pre-independence era

M. K Gandhi was spiritual leader of the INC and the acknowledged "father of India."

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 Mumbai, with the approval of Lord Dufferin, the then-Viceroy.

Womesh Chandra Bonerjee 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 Mumbai.
The first Session of INC was held from 28-31 December 1885, and was attended by 72

A few years down the line, the demands of 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 of Bal Gangadhar Tilak,
or Extremists (literally "hot faction"), and the Naram Dal of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, or
Moderates (literally "soft faction"), distinguished by their attitude towards the British.

In its time as the nation's leader in the freedom struggle, it produced the nation's greatest leaders.
Before the Gandhi Era came leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat
Rai, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (later leader of the Muslim League and
instrumental in the creation of Pakistan), all starting with the first legendary icon of Indians:
Dadabhai Naoroji, the president of the sister Indian National Association and later the first
Indian Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons.

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. The Congress
under Gandhi's influence became the first integrated 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. At the time of
the Quit India movement, the Congress was undoubtedly the strongest political and revolutionary
organization in India. The Indian National Congress could claim to be the true representative of
the Indian people.

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 INC. The
26th January 1930 was declared as "Poorna Swaraj Diwas," Independence Day although the
British remained in India a number of years longer. It was to commemorate this date particularly
that The Indian Constitution was formally adopted on 26 January 1950 (even though it was
passed on 26 November 1949).

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.

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

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.[2] However, at the time of
independence, the INC (led by Jawaharlal Nehru) was a major political organization in the
country, and was established as the major political party. The Congress thus, considering the
perceived need for a stable leadership and guiding vision after the terrible chaos and confusion
following the Partition of India and Independence, was re-established as an electoral party in
independent India. Across several general elections, the party ruled uninterrupted until 1977, and
has remained a major political force.

After the murder of Gandhi in 1948 and the death of Sardar Patel in 1950, Jawaharlal Nehru was
the sole remaining iconic national leader, and he became 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 class, the business class and improved the position of religious minorities
and lower caste Hindus. A generation of freedom fighting leaders were soon replaced by a
generation of people who had grown up in the shadow of Nehru. Nehru led the Congress Party to
consecutively awesome majorities in the elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962.

After Nehru's death in 1964, the party's future first came into question. No leader was
competitive enough to touch Nehru's iconic status, 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.

In 1955 in Awadi session the party adopted a socialistic pattern of society for India.

Indira Gandhi

The first serious challenge to Congress hegemony came in 1967 when a united opposition, under
the banner of Samyukt Vidhanayak 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 known as Indian National Congress (Organisation) led by Kamaraj. It
was informally called the Old Congress. As Indira Priyadarshini had control over the state
machinery, her faction was recognized as the "real" 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 and more authoritarian. Following allegations of
widespread rigging in the general elections, a court overturned Indira Gandhi's victory in the
Parliamentary constituency. Facing growing opposition she proclaimed a state of National
emergency in 1975, curtailed the powers of the courts, and unleashed a police state with herself
as the supreme leader ('acting Prime Minister').

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. The Congress
(I) was routed in the general elections by the Janata Party. The party was able to return to power
in the 1980 elections. In 1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, as
a revenge for Operation Blue Star. In the following days thousands of Sikhs were killed in the
1984 riots, mainly in Delhi, by activists and leaders of the Congress Party. [1]. About the riots,
the new PM and Indira's son, Rajiv Gandhi had infamously remarked, "When a big tree falls, the
earth is bound to shake."

The post-Indira era

After Indira, her son Rajiv Gandhi, took over as Congress leader and led the party to victory with
a large majority in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections. It governed from 1984-9 and then was defeated
in the 1989 general election. Rajiv Gandhi was also assassinated by the LTTE during the course
of the election campaign in 1991. Following Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, P.V. Narasimha Rao
succeeded him as Congress leader and became prime minister.
The 1990s was a period of prolonged crisis for the Congress. After gradually losing political
influence the party asked the Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Sonia, to accept the position as Congress
President. Refusing in 1991, the Congress stuck with Narasimha Rao. Rao dramatically changed
the party's traditionally socialist policies and introduced major economic reforms and
liberalization, with the help of then Finance minister (and future Prime Minister) Manmohan
Singh. Nonetheless, his involvement in the bribery of members of parliament was a major issue
which led to the downfall of the Congress in 1996, and subsequently his own disgraced exit from

Former treasurer Sitaram Kesri took over the reins of the party and oversaw the Congress
support to the United Front governments that ran from 1996 - 1998. During his tenure, several
key leaders broke away from the party, and serious infighting broke out among those left. In
1998, Sonia Gandhi finally accepted the post of Congress President, in a move that may have
saved the party from extinction.

After her election as party leader, a section of the party, which objected to the choice, broke
away and formed the Nationalist Congress Party. (Where breakaway factions are active, the use
of "Congress (I)" to denote the party run by Indira Gandhi's successors continues.) There have
been repeated attempts by the Indian nationalist groups (such as the BJP) to discredit Sonia
Gandhi's leadership on the basis of her foreign origin - she is Italian-born.

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.

Indian Prime Ministers from the Congress Party

 Jawaharlal Nehru (1947 - 1964)
 Gulzarilal Nanda (May - June1964, 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 -)

Political accusations

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. Some examples are:

 Anti-Sikh riots - After the assassination of Indira Gandhi by Sikh Body Guards following
Operation Bluestar, many Congress workers prominently including Jagdish Tytler and
Sajjan Kumar were accused of inciting and participating in anti-Sikh riots that killed
thousands. The Congress apologized many years later for its silence on these events, an
apology that was considered inadequate by some of those concerned.
 Volcker report - The Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) appointed by the United
Nations in its final report released on October 27, 2005 confirms that documents state:
'Beneficiary: India: Congress Party' with an entitlement of 4 million barrels of crude' and
`Beneficiary: India: Singh Mr K. Natwar' with an entitlement of 4 million barrels'.
 The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has repeatedly accused the Congress of showing
favoritism to the Indian Muslim community and the toleration, or even promotion of,
Islamic and obscurantism. Congress policy is also accused of causing fifty years of
economic stagnation, following Independence, and of excessive veneration of the Nehru-
Gandhi dynasty.

Formation of 2004 Government of India
In the 2004 general elections, the Congress alliance won the largest number of seats and got an
assurance of support from the Left Front upsetting the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led National
Democratic Alliance, which was variously forecasted 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 May 22, 2004. He became India's first Sikh head of government.

Internal organization
The organization developed by Mahatma Gandhi's reorganization of the Congress in the years of
1918 to 1920 has largely been retained till today.

In every Indian state and union territory or pradesh, there is a Pradesh Congress Committee,
which is the provincial unit of the party, responsible for directing political campaigns at local and
state levels and assisting the campaigns for Parliamentary constituencies. Each PCC has a
Working Committee of 10-15 key members, and the state president is the leader of the state unit.
The Congressmen elected as members of the states legislative assemblies form the Congress
Legislature Parties in the various state assemblies, and their chairperson is usually the party's
nominee for Chief Ministership.

The All India Congress Committee is formed of delegates sent from the PCCs around the
country. The delegates elect various Congress committees, including the Congress Working
Committee, which consists of senior party leaders and office bearers, and takes all important
executive and political decisions.

The President of the Indian National Congress is in effect the party's national leader, head of the
organization, head of the Working Committee and all chief Congress committees, chief
spokesman and the Congress choice to become the Prime Minister of India.
Constitutionally, the president is to be elected by the vote of the PCCs and members of the
AICC. However, this procedure has often been by-passed by the Working Committee, choosing
to elect its own candidate as an emergency measure.

The Congress Parliamentary Party is the group of elected MPs in the Lok Sabha and Rajya
Sabha. Their elected chairperson is the leader of the majority, and supposed to be the Prime
Minister. However, there have been notable exceptions.
Ideology and policies

Congress is a civic nationalist party that follows a form of nationalism that supports the values of
freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights.[165]

Throughout much of the Cold War period, Congress supported a foreign policy of nonalignment
that called for India to form ties with both the Western and Eastern Blocs, but to avoid formal
alliances with either.[166] support for Pakistan led the party to endorse a friendship treaty with the
Soviet Union in 1971.[167] In 2004, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance came to
power, its chairperson Sonia Gandhi unexpectedly relinquished the premiership to Manmohan
Singh. This Singh-led "UPA I" government executed several key pieces of legislation and
projects, including the Rural Health Mission, Unique Identification Authority, the Rural
Employment Guarantee scheme, and the Right to Information Act.[168][169]

Economic policy

The history of economic policy of Congress-led governments can be divided into two periods.
The first period lasted from independence, in 1947, to 1991 and put great emphasis on the public
sector. The second period began with economic liberalization in 1991.

At the beginning of the first period, the Congress prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru implemented
policies based on import substitution industrialization and advocated a mixed economy where the
government-controlled public sector would co-exist with the private sector.[170] He believed that
the establishment of basic and heavy industry was fundamental to the development and
modernisation of the Indian economy. The government, therefore, directed investment primarily
into key public-sector industries—steel, iron, coal, and power—promoting their development
with subsidies and protectionist policies.[171] This period was called the Licence Raj, or Permit
Raj,[172] which was the elaborate system of licences, regulations, and accompanying red tape that
were required to set up and run businesses in India between 1947 and 1990.[173] The Licence Raj
was a result of Nehru and his successors' desire to have a planned economy where all aspects of
the economy were controlled by the state, and licences were given to a select few. Up to 80
government agencies had to be satisfied before private companies could produce something; and,
if the licence were granted, the government would regulate production.[174] The licence raj
system continued under Indira Gandhi.In addition,many key sectors such as banking, steel coal,
and oil were nationalized.[92][175] Under Rajiv Gandhi, small steps were taken to liberalize the

In 1991, the new Congress-party government, led by P. V. Narasimha Rao, initiated reforms to
avert the impending 1991 economic crisis.[130][177] The reforms progressed furthest in opening up
areas to foreign investment, reforming capital markets, deregulating domestic business, and
reforming the trade regime. The goals of Rao's government were to reduce the fiscal deficit,
privatize the public sector, and increase investment in infrastructure. Trade reforms and changes
in the regulation of foreign direct investment were introduced in order to open India to foreign
trade while stabilising external loans. Rao chose Manmohan Singh for the job. Singh, an
acclaimed economist and former chairman of the Resrve Bank, played a central role in
implementing these reforms.
In 2004, Singh became prime minister of the Congress-led UPA government. Singh remained
prime minister after the UPA won the 2009 general elections. The UPA government introduced
policies aimed at reforming the banking and financial sectors, as well as public sector
companies.[178] It also introduced policies aimed at relieving farmers of their debt.[179] In 2005,
Singh's government introduced the value added tax, replacing the sales tax. India was able to
resist the worst effects of the global Economic crisis of 2008.[180][181] Singh's government
continued the Golden Quadrilateral, the Indian highway modernisation program that was
initiated by Vajpayee's government.[182]

At present, Congress endorses a mixed economy in which the private sector and the state both
direct the economy, which has characteristics of both market and planned economies. Congress
advocates import substitution industrialisation—the replacement of foreign imports with
domestic products. Congress believes the Indian economy should be liberalised to increase the
pace of development.

Healthcare and education

In 2005, the Congress-led government started the National Rural Health Mission, which
employed about 500,000 community health workers. It was praised by economist Jeffrey
Sachs.[183] In 2006, it implemented a proposal to reserve 27% of seats in the All India Institute of
Medical Studies (AIIMS), the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of
Management (IIMs), and other central higher education institutions, for Other Backward Classes,
which led to the 2006 Indian anti-reservation protests.[184] The Singh government also continued
the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme, which includes the introduction and improvement of
mid-day school meals and the opening of new schools throughout India, especially in rural areas,
to fight illiteracy.[185] During Manmohan Singh's prime-ministership, eight Institutes of
Technology were opened in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Orissa, Punjab,
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh.[186]

Security and home affairs

Congress has strengthened anti-terrorism laws with amendments to the Unlawful Activities
(Prevention) Act (UAPA).[187] The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created by the UPA
government soon after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, in response to the need for a
central agency to combat terrorism.[188] The Unique Identification Authority of India was
established in February 2009 to implement the proposed Multipurpose National Identity Card,
with the objective of increasing national security.[189]

Foreign policy

Congress has continued the foreign policy started by P. V. Narasimha Rao. This includes the
peace process with Pakistan, and the exchange of high-level visits by leaders from both
countries.[190] The party has tried to end the border dispute with the People's Republic of China
through negotiations.[191][192] Relations with Afghanistan have also been a concern for
Congress.[193] During Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to New Delhi in August 2008,
Manmohan Singh increased the aid package to Afghanistan for the development of schools,
health clinics, infrastructure, and defence.[194] India is now one of the single largest aid donors to

When in power between 2004 and 2014, Congress worked on India's relationship with the United
States. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the US in July 2005 to negotiate an India–
United States Civil Nuclear Agreement. US president George W. Bush visited India in March
2006; during this visit, a nuclear agreement that would give India access to nuclear fuel and
technology in exchange for the IAEA inspection of its civil nuclear reactors was proposed. Over
two years of negotiations, followed by approval from the IAEA, the Nuclear Suppliers Group
and the United States Congress, the agreement was signed on 10 October 2008.[195]

Congress' policy has been to cultivate friendly relations with Japan as well as European Union
countries including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.[196] Diplomatic relations with
Iran have continued, and negotiations over the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline have taken
place.[197] In April 2006, New Delhi hosted an India–Africa summit attended by the leaders of 15
African states.[198] Congress' policy has also been to improve relations with other developing
countries, particularly Brazil and South Africa.[199]