The Indian National Congress (About this sound pronunciation (INC, often called the Congress Party or simply Congress) is a political party in India with widespread roots.
Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa.
From the late 19th century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement.
Congress led India to independence from Great Britain, and powerfully influenced other anti-colonial nationalist movements in the British Empire.
Congress is a "big tent" party whose liberal social democratic platform is generally considered to be on the centre-left of Indian politics.
Congress' social policy is based upon the Gandhian principle of Sarvodaya–the lifting up of all sections of society–which involves the improvement of the lives of economically underprivileged and socially marginalised people.
On social and economic issues, it advocates liberty, social justice, equality, welfare state, along with progressive and secular society.
The party's constitution adheres to liberal–democratic socialist philosophy.
After India's independence in 1947, Congress formed the union government of India, and many state governments of India Congress became India's dominant political party; as of 2019, in the 17 general elections since independence, it has won an outright majority on seven occasions and has led the ruling coalition a further three times, heading the central government for more than 54 years.
There have been six Congress Prime Ministers, the first being Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–1964), and the most recent Manmohan Singh (2004–2014).
Although it did not fare well in the last two general elections in India in 2014 and 2019, it remains one of two major, nationwide, political parties in India, along with the right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In the 2014 general election, Congress had its poorest post-independence general election performance, winning only 44 seats of the 543-member Lok Sabha—the lower house of the Parliament of India.
From 2004 to 2014, United Progressive Alliance, a coalition of Congress with several regional parties, formed the Indian government led by Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister as the head of the coalition government.
The leader of the party during the period, Sonia Gandhi has served the longest term as the president of the party.
As of July 2019, the party is in power in six legislative assemblies: Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra (as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi), and the union territory of Puducherry (in an alliance with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam).
Key Description of Nationalist Congress Party:
President: Sonia Gandhi (interim)
Presidium: All India Congress Committee
Parliamentary Chairperson: Sonia Gandhi
Lok Sabha Leader: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
Rajya Sabha Leader: Ghulam Nabi Azad (Leader of the Opposition)
- Allan Octavian Hume
- William Wedderburn
- W. C. Bonnerjee
- Surendranath Banerjee
- Monomohun Ghose
- Lalmohan Ghosh
- Badruddin Tyabji
- M. G. Ranade
- Dadabhai Naoroji
- Dinshaw Wacha
- Pherozeshah Mehta
Founded: 28 December 1885 (134 years ago)
Headquarters: 24, Akbar Road, New Delhi-110001
Newspaper: Congress Sandesh
Student Wing: National Students Union of India
Youth Wing: Indian Youth Congress
Women's Wing: All India Mahila Congress
Labor Wing: Indian National Trade Union Congress
- Big tent
- Social liberalism
- Social democracy
- Civic nationalism
Political Position: Centre to centre-left
- Progressive Alliance
- Socialist International
ECI Status: National Party
- United Progressive Alliance (All India)
- Democratic Progressive Alliance (Tamil Nadu)
- Maha Vikas Aghadi (Maharashtra)
- Mahagathbandhan (Bihar)
- Mahagathbandhan (Jharkhand)
- United Democratic Front (Kerala)
Seats in Lok Sabha: 52 / 542
Seats in Rajya Sabha: 39 / 245 (currently 213 elected members + 12 nominated members)
Number of states and union territories in government: 6 / 31
(currently 28 states + 2 union
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First session of Indian National Congress, Bombay, 28–31 December 1885
The Indian National Congress conducted its first session in Bombay from 28–31 December 1885 at the initiative of retired Civil Service officer Allan Octavian Hume.
In 1883, Hume had outlined his idea for a body representing Indian interests in an open letter to graduates of the University of Calcutta.
Its aim was to obtain a greater share in government for educated Indians, and to create a platform for civic and political dialogue between them and the British Raj.
Hume took the initiative, and in March 1885 a notice convening the first meeting of the Indian National Union to be held in Poona the following December was issued. Due to a cholera outbreak there, it was moved to Bombay.
A. O. Hume, one of the founders of the Indian National Congress
Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee, The First president of Indian National Congress
Hume organised the first meeting in Bombay with the approval of the Viceroy Lord Dufferin. Umesh Chandra Banerjee was the first president of Congress; the first session was attended by 72 delegates, representing each province of India.
Notable representatives included Scottish ICS officer William Wedderburn, Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta of the Bombay Presidency Association, Ganesh Vasudeo Joshi of the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, social reformer and newspaper editor Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Justice K. T. Telang, N. G. Chandavarkar, Dinshaw Wacha, Behramji Malabari, journalist and activist Gooty Kesava Pillai, and P. Rangaiah Naidu of the Madras Mahajana Sabha.
This small elite group, unrepresentative of the Indian masses at the time, functioned more as a stage for elite Indian ambitions than a political party for the first decade of its existence.
As of 2014, the election symbol of Congress, as approved by the Election Commission of India, is an image of a right hand with its palm facing front and its fingers pressed together; this is usually shown in the centre of a tricolor flag.
The hand symbol was first used by Indira Gandhi when she split from the Congress (R) faction following the 1977 elections and created the New Congress (I).
The symbol of the original Congress during elections held between 1952 and 1971 was an image of two bullocks with a plough. The symbol of Indira's Congress (R) during the 1971–1977 period was a cow with a suckling calf.
National Elections Results:
|Year||Legislature||Party leader||Seats won||Percentage of votes||Outcome|
|1934||5th Central Legislative Assembly||Bhulabhai Desai||42 / 147||–||N/A|
|1945||6th Central Legislative Assembly||Sarat Chandra Bose||59 / 102||–||Interim Government of India (1946–1947)|
|1951||1st Lok Sabha||Jawaharlal Nehru||364 / 489||44.99%||Government|
|1957||2nd Lok Sabha||371 / 494||47.78%||Government|
|1962||3rd Lok Sabha||361 / 494||44.72%||Government|
|1967||4th Lok Sabha||Indira Gandhi||283 / 520||40.78%||Government|
|1971||5th Lok Sabha||352 / 518||43.68%||Government|
|1977||6th Lok Sabha||153 / 542||34.52%||Opposition|
|1980||7th Lok Sabha||351 / 542||42.69%||Government|
|1984||8th Lok Sabha||Rajiv Gandhi||415 / 533||49.01%||Government|
|1989||9th Lok Sabha||197 / 545||39.53%||Opposition|
|1991||10th Lok Sabha||P. V. Narasimha Rao||244 / 545||35.66%||Government|
|1996||11th Lok Sabha||140 / 545||28.80%||Opposition, later outside support for UF|
|1998||12th Lok Sabha||Sitaram Kesri||141 / 545||25.82%||Opposition|
|1999||13th Lok Sabha||Sonia Gandhi||114 / 545||28.30%||Opposition|
|2004||14th Lok Sabha||145 / 543||26.7%||Government|
|2009||15th Lok Sabha||206 / 543||28.55%||Government|
|2014||16th Lok Sabha||Rahul Gandhi||44 / 543||19.3%||Opposition|
|2019||17th Lok Sabha||52 / 543||19.5%||Opposition|
Current Structure And Composition:
Congress was structured in a hierarchical manner by Mahatma Gandhi when he took charge as the president of the party in 1921.
The party was a "broad church" during the independence movement; however, Jawarlal Nehru's descendants have turned the party into a "family firm" with hereditary succession.
At present, the president and the All India Congress Committee (AICC) are elected by delegates from state and district parties at an annual national conference; in every Indian state and union territory—or pradesh—there is a Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), which is the state-level 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 twenty members, most of whom are appointed by the party president, the leader of the state party, who is chosen by the national president.
Those elected as members of the states' legislative assemblies form the Congress Legislature Parties in the various state assemblies; their chairperson is usually the party's nominee for Chief Ministership.
The party is also organised into various committees, and sections; it publishes a daily newspaper, the National Herald.
Despite being a party with a structure, Congress under Indira Gandhi did not hold any organizational elections after 1972.
List of Prime Ministers:
|1||Jawaharlal Nehru||15 August 1947 – 27 May 1964||16 years, 286 days||Phulpur|
|2||Lal Bahadur Shastri||9 June 1964 – 11 January 1966||1 year, 216 days||Allahabad|
(Acting Prime Minister)
|11 January 1966 – 24 January 1966||26 days||Sabarkantha|
|3||Indira Gandhi||24 January 1966 – 24 March 1977
14 January 1980 – 31 October 1984
|11 years, 59 days;
4 years, 291 days
|Uttar Pradesh (Rajya Sabha), Rae Bareli, Medak|
|4||Rajiv Gandhi||31 October 1984 – 2 December 1989||5 years, 32 days||Amethi|
|5||P. V. Narasimha Rao||21 June 1991 – 16 May 1996||4 years, 330 days||Nandyal|
|6||Manmohan Singh||22 May 2004 – 26 May 2014||10 years, 4 days||Assam (Rajya Sabha)|
List of Prime Ministers (former Congress members):
|1||Morarji Desai||24 March 1977 – 28 July 1979||2 years, 65 days||Surat|
|2||Charan Singh||28 July 1979 – 14 January 1980||139 days||Baghpat|
|3||V. P. Singh||2 December 1989 – 10 November 1990||343 days||Fatehpur|
|4||Chandra Shekhar||10 November 1990 – 21 June 1991||223 days||Ballia|
|5||H. D. Deve Gowda||1 June 1996 – 21 April 1997||324 days||Karnataka (Rajya Sabha)|
|6||I. K. Gujral||21 April 1997 – 19 March 1998||332 days||Bihar (Rajya Sabha)|