Indian National Congress

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Indian National Congress
Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
Parliamentary Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
Leader in Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde[1]
Leader in Rajya Sabha Manmohan Singh
(Prime Minister)
Founded 28 December 1885; 128 years ago (1885-12-28)
Headquarters 24, Akbar Road, New Delhi
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 democracy
Democratic socialism
Gandhian socialism
Progressivism
Internal factions:
 • Social liberalism
 • Secularism
 • Centrism
 • Social conservatism
Political position Centre-left[2]
International affiliation Progressive Alliance[3]
Colours Aqua
ECI Status National Party[4]
Alliance United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
Seats in Lok Sabha
201 / 545
Seats in Rajya Sabha
72 / 245
Election symbol
INC party symbol
Website
www.inc.in
Politics of India
Political parties
Elections
Flag of the Indian National Congress.svg This article is part of a series about
Indian National Congress
Joe Biden
Joe Biden

The Indian National Congress (About this sound pronunciation  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 (BJP). It is the largest and one of the oldest democratically-operating political parties in the world.[5][6][7] The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered to be on the centre-left of the Indian political spectrum.

The Organisation was founded in 1885 by Allan Octavian Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, Surendranath Banerjee, Monomohun Ghose, Mahadev Govind Ranade and William Wedderburn. Hume was also a prominent member of the Theosophical Society. In the following decades, the Indian National Congress became a pivotal participant in the Indian Independence Movement, with over 15 million members and over 70 million participants in its struggle against British colonial rule in India.[8] After independence in 1947, it became the nation's dominant political party; in the 15 general elections since independence, the Congress has won an outright majority on six occasions, and has led the ruling coalition a further four times, heading the central government for a total of 49 years.[9] It has been led by the Nehru-Gandhi family for the most part, with major challenges for party leadership emerging only since 2010.[8]

In the most recent general elections in 2009, the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, with 206 of its candidates getting elected to the 543-member house. Consequently it, as the leader of a coalition of political parties called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), was able to gain a majority and form the government.

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;
  • The post-independence era, when the party has enjoyed a prominent place in Indian politics, ruling the country for 49 of the 67 years since independence in 1947.

Pre-independence

A.O. Hume one of the founders of the Indian National Congress
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.[8] 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.[10]

Founded in 1885 claiming that it had the objective of obtaining a greater share in government for educated Indians was created to form a platform for civic and political dialogue of educated Indians with the British Raj. 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 Bonnerjee 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 decided to advocate in favour of the independence movement, as it would allow for a new political system in which they could be a majorly dominant party. 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 colonists. Under the influence of Tilak, the Congress became the first organised independence group in the country, bringing together millions of people against the British.[8]

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 Swadeshi 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.[11]

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, when he was the President of Congress party
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, Dr. Anugraha Narayan Sinha, Jayaprakash Narayan, Jivatram Kripalani and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. With the already existing nationalistic feeling combined with Gandhi's popularity, the Congress became a forceful and dominant group of people 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 just about every religion, ethnic group, economic class and linguistic group. In 1939, Subhas Chandra Bose, the elected president in both 1938 and 1939 resigned from the Congress over the selection of the working committee. The Indian National Congress was not the sole representative of the Indian polity and other parties existed at the time, notably the Hindu Mahasabha, Azad Hind Sarkar, and Forward Bloc.[12]

The 1929 Lahore session under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru holds special significance as in this session "Purna Swaraj" (complete independence) was declared as the goal of the INC. 26 January 1930 was declared as "Purna Swaraj Diwas", Independence Day, although the British would remain in India for 17 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.[13]

After the First World War the party became associated with Mohandas K. 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 organisation, 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.[14]

Post-independence

After Indian independence in 1947, the Congress became the dominant political party in the country. In the first general election in 1952, the party swept to power at the centre as well as in most state legislatures. The Congress was continuously in power until 1977, when it was defeated by the Janata Party. It returned to power in 1980 and ruled until 1989, when it was once again defeated. It formed the government in 1991 at the head of a coalition, as well as in 2004 and 2009, when it led the United Progressive Alliance. During this period it has remained centre-left in its social policies, while steadily shifting from a socialist to a neoliberal economic outlook.[9]

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.[15] Despite this, when India was declared an independent nation in 1947, the Congress became the dominant party in the new constituent assembly, and the prime minister was chosen from within its ranks. Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel were the chief contenders for the post, thanks to their great stature within the party and the independence movement as a whole. After lengthy deliberation, Nehru was selected for the post.[16]

After the assassination of Gandhi in 1948, and the death of Sardar Patel in 1950, Jawaharlal Nehru was the only remaining leader with truly national stature; thus Nehru soon became the key to the electoral success of the Congress, a fact of which the other leaders were aware. This is turn allowed Nehru considerable leeway to direct the policy of the party. Nehru embraced secularism, socialistic economic practices based on state driven industrialisation, and a non-aligned and non-confrontational foreign policy, which became the hallmark of the modern Congress party. Nehru led the Congress to consecutive majorities in the elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962.[17]

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 until 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.[18]

K. Kamaraj

Toward the end of Nehru's life, K. Kamaraj 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 known as "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.[19]

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi, thrice Prime Minister of India.

The first serious challenge to Congress hegemony came in 1967 when a new coalition, under the banner of the Samyukta Vidhayak Dal, won control over several states in the Hindi belt. Indira Gandhi (not related to Mahatma 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) (INC(O)) led by Kamaraj. It was informally called the "Old Congress" and retained the party symbol of a pair of bullocks carrying a yoke. Mrs. Gandhi's breakaway faction were given a new symbol of a cow with suckling calf by the Election Commission as the party election symbol.[20]

The split in the congress was result of growing differences between syndicate/old guard of the party and Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi took control of the finance portfolio and passed bank nationalisation ordinance. After the death of President Zakir Hussain in May 1969, the Syndicate faction chose Sanjiva Reddy as the Congress candidate. The vice President of India at that time, V.V. Giri, also filed his nomination as an independent candidate for the post of President. Mrs Gandhi openly supported Mr. Giri against Mr. Reddy. After the victory of Mr. Giri, Mrs. Gandhi was served with a show-cause notice for her indiscipline. She did not reply which led to the party split in late 1969. Indira's faction was called INC (R). This faction retained maximum number of MPs and Mrs. Gandhi remained in control of government.[21]

The split can in some ways be seen as a left-wing/right-wing division. Indira Gandhi wanted to use a populist agenda to gather support for the party. She raised slogans such as Garibi Hatao (Remove Poverty), and wanted to develop closer ties with the Soviet Union, for strategic purposes.[22] 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 and autocratic in her policies and outlook. Following allegations of electoral malpractice in the general elections, a court overturned Gandhi's victory in her parliamentary constituency in the 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 her party's opposition, 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 lasted only 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 Delhi and elsewhere in which more than six thousand Sikhs were killed, purportedly by activists and leaders of the Congress Party.[23]

Rajiv Gandhi

Rajiv Gandhi, former prime minister of India and president of the Indian National Congress, prior to his assassination in 1991

Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, the Indian National Congress party leaders nominated Rajiv Gandhi to be the next Prime Minister. He took office by storm, winning major election victory, and leading the Congress party by winning 411 seats out of 542, in the Indian Parliament.[24]

Narasimha Rao (1992–1996)

P V Narasimha Rao

Along with party president, Narasimha Rao was also the prime minister of the country.[25]

Sitaram Kesri (1996–1998)

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.

Sonia Gandhi (1998–present)

Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance and President of Indian National Congress

In the 1998 general elections, the Congress won a 141 seats in the Lok Sabha, its lowest tally up until then. This led to the party leaders persuading Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, to take over the leadership of the party, despite the fact that she had hitherto stayed away from politics. Sitaram Kesri was asked to step down as Congress president, and Sonia Gandhi appointed in his place.[26]

After her election as party leader, a section of the party which objected to the choice on the basis of her Italian ethnicity, broke away and formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), led by Sharad Pawar. The breakaway faction commanded strong support in the state of Maharashtra, as well as limited support elsewhere. The remainder continued to be known as the Indian National Congress, or the "Congress (I)."[26]

Sonia Gandhi's appointment failed to have an impact initially; in the snap polls called by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 1999, the Congress won a 114 seats, its lowest ever tally. However, the leadership structure was not changed, and the party campaigned strongly in the assembly elections that followed, tasting considerable success; at one point, the Congress ruled 15 states nationwide. In the 2004 general election, the Congress forged an alliance with several regional parties, including the NCP and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The party campaigned on a plank of social inclusion and common people's welfare. This was in contrast to the "India Shining" campaign of the NDA, which sought to highlight the supposed successes of the NDA government in making India a "modern nation." The Congress led United Progressive Alliance won 222 seats in the new parliament, defeating the NDA by a substantial margin. With the support of the communist front, the Congress was able to muster a majority and form the government. Despite massive support from within the party, Sonia Gandhi declined the post of prime minister, choosing to appoint Manmohan Singh instead. She, however, retained the post of party president, as well as heading the National Advisory Council (NAC).[26]

Through its first term in office, the UPA government passed several landmark bills aimed at social reform. These included an employment guarantee bill, the Right to Information Act, and a right to education act. The NAC, as well as the left front that supported the government from the outside, were widely seen as being the driving force behind such legislation. However, the left front withdrew support to the government over disagreements about the nuclear deal with the United States. Despite the effective loss of 62 seats in parliament, the government survived the trust vote that followed.[27] In the Lok Sabha elections that occurred soon after, the Congress won 207 seats, the highest tally by any party since 1991. The UPA as a whole won 262, thus easily enabling to form the government for the second time. The social welfare policies of the first UPA government are broadly credited for the victory, as is the perceived divisiveness of the BJP.[28]

Ideology and policies

Social

Social policy of the INC is officially based upon the Gandhian principle of Sarvodaya (upliftment of all sections of the society.) In particular INC emphasises upon policies to improve the lives of the economically underprivileged and socially unprivileged sections of society. This includes publicising employment generation efforts for the rural population (through schemes such as National Rural Employment Generation Scheme) etc. The party supports the somewhat controversial concept of family planning with birth control.[29]

Economic

Initially and for a long time, the economic policy of the INC was centred around the public sector and aimed at establishing a "socialistic pattern of society." However, after the recent adoption of economically liberal policies started by Manmohan Singh the-then Finance Minister[30] in the early 1990s, the economic policy of INC has been changed somewhat and has now adopted free market policies, though at the same time it is in favour of taking a cautious approach when it comes to liberalising the economy claiming it is to help ensure that the weaker sectors are not affected too hard by the changes that come with liberalisation.[31]

Foreign

Traditionally, nonalignment has been the bedrock of the foreign policy of the INC.[32] The Non-Aligned movement became the name to refer to the participants of the Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries first held in 1961. The term "non-alignment" itself was coined by V.K. Krishna Menon in his 1953 remarks at the United Nations. In his 1954 speech in Colombo, in Sri Lanka, Nehru described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations, which were first put forth by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement.[33]

In general elections

Year General Election Seats Won Change in Seat  % of votes votes swing
Indian general election, 1951 1st Lok Sabha 364 44.99%
Indian general election, 1957 2nd Lok Sabha 371 Increase7 47.78% Increase 2.79%
Indian general election, 1962 3rd Lok Sabha 361 Decrease10 44.72% Decrease 3.06%
Indian general election, 1967 4th Lok Sabha 283 Decrease78 40.78% Decrease 2.94%
Indian general election, 1971 5th Lok Sabha 352 Increase69 43.68% Increase 2.90%
Indian general election, 1977 6th Lok Sabha 153 Decrease199 34.52% Decrease 9.16%
Indian general election, 1980 7th Lok Sabha 351 Increase 198 42.69% Increase 8.17%
Indian general election, 1984 8th Lok Sabha 415 Increase 64 49.01% Increase 6.32%
Indian general election, 1989 9th Lok Sabha 197 Decrease218 39.53% Decrease 9.48%
Indian general election, 1991 10th Lok Sabha 244 Increase 47 35.66% Decrease 3.87%
Indian general election, 1996 11th Lok Sabha 140 Decrease 104 28.80% Decrease 7.46%
Indian general election, 1998 12th Lok Sabha 141 Increase 1 25.82% Decrease 2.98%
Indian general election, 1999 13th Lok Sabha 114 Decrease 27 28.30% Increase 2.48%
Indian general election, 2004 14th Lok Sabha 145 Increase 32 26.7% Decrease 1.6%
Indian general election, 2009 15th Lok Sabha 206 Increase 61 28.55% Increase 2.02%
Indian general election, 2014 16th Lok Sabha TBA TBA TBA TBA

Organisational structure

The organisational structure created by Mohandas Gandhi's re-arrangement of the Congress in the years of 1918 to 1920 has largely been retained until today.[34]

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 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 organisation, head of the Working Committee and all chief Congress committees, chief spokesman and the Congress choice to become the Prime Minister of India.[35]

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 a result of conditional circumstances.

The Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) is the group of elected MPs in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. It was headed previously by senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee until June 2012. But since Pranab was nominated as the candidate for Presidential election and was subsequently elected as the President of India, he demitted this post. Since the current Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh is not an elected member of the Lok Sabha, another senior Congress leader and Union Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde was elected as 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 Congress Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) 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.

State branches

Presence in various states

Congress Ruled States in dark green, coalition in light green. Light blue is where congress is principal opposition party
  • Congress is currently in power in eight states (Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram)where the party enjoys a majority of its own.
  • In five other states – Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand – it shares power with other alliance partners.
  • In Tamil Nadu, it lost power in the 1967 assembly election and has not been able to recapture it since.
  • In the remaining states and in the union territory of Puducherry, various opposition parties are in power.

Territorial Division

Pradesh Congress Committees generally are constituted in the states named below with the headquarters.[36]

State Headquarters
Andhra Pradesh Hyderabad
Arunachal Itanagar
Assam Guwahati
Bihar Patna
Chhatishgarh Raipur
Delhi Delhi
Goa Panaji
Gujarat Ahmedabad
Haryana Chandigarh
Himachal Shimla
Jammu & Kashmir Srinagar
Jharkhand Ranchi
Karnataka Bangalore
Kerala Thiruvananthapuram
Madhya Pradesh Bhopal
Maharashtra Mumbai
Manipur Imphal
Meghalaya Shillong
Mizoram Aizwal
Nagaland Kohima
Orissa Bhubaneshwar
Puducherry Puducherry
Punjab Chandigarh
Rajasthan Jaipur
Sikkim Gangtok
Tripura Agartala
Tamil Nadu Chennai
Uttarakhand Dehradun
Uttar Pradesh Lucknow
West Bengal Kolkata

Territorial Congress Committees generally are constituted in the territories named below with the headquarters.

Territory Headquarters
Andaman-Nicobar Islands Port Blair
Chandigarh Chandigarh
Dadra-Nagar Haveli Silvassa
Daman & Diu Daman
Lakshadweep Kavaratti

List of current Chief Ministers

List of Prime Ministers

Controversies during its rule

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 Gandhi rejected calls to resign and announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Gandhi 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.

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 25 June 1975. It is one of the most controversial periods in the history of independent India.[37]

1984: anti-Sikh riots

The 1984 anti-Sikhs riots or the 1984 Sikh Massacre were a series of pogroms[38][39][40][41] triggered by the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India's prime minister at that time. She was assassinated on 31 October 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards in response to her actions in authorising the Operation Blue Star military operation. Earlier in June 1984, during Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi had ordered the Indian Army to attack the Golden Temple and eliminate any insurgents, as it had been occupied by Sikh separatists who were stockpiling weapons. Later operations by Indian paramilitary forces had also been initiated before the assassination to clear the separatists from the countryside of Punjab state.[42]

The violence in Delhi, against Sikhs by anti-Sikh mobs, started on 31 October 1984, the day of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. There were more than 8,000[43] deaths, including 3,000 in Delhi.[40] Many Indian National Congress workers including Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and Kamal Nath were accused of inciting and participating in riots targeting the Sikh population of the capital. The Indian government reported 2,700 deaths in the ensuing chaos. In the aftermath of the riots, the Indian government reported 20,000 had fled the city, however the People's Union for Civil Liberties reported "at least 50,000" displaced persons.[44] The most affected regions were the Sikh neighbourhoods in Delhi. The Central Bureau of Investigation, the main Indian investigating agency, is of the opinion that the acts of violence were organised with the support from the then Delhi police officials and the central government headed by Indira Gandhi's son, Rajiv Gandhi.[45] Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister after his mother's death and, when asked about the riots, said "when a big tree falls (Mrs. Gandhi's death), the earth shakes" thus trying to justify the communal strife.[46]

The government, then led by the Congress, was widely criticised 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. On 31 October, Congress party officials provided assailants with voter lists, school registration forms, and ration lists.[47] The lists were used to find the location of Sikh homes and business, an otherwise impossible task because they were located in unmarked and diverse neighbourhoods. On the night of 31 October, the night before the massacres began, assailants used the lists to mark the houses of Sikhs with letter "S".[47] In addition, because most of the mobs were illiterate, Congress Party officials provided help in reading the lists and leading the mobs to Sikh homes and businesses in the other neighbourhoods.[48] By using the lists the mobs were able to pinpoint the locations of Sikhs they otherwise would have missed.[48]

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"[49][50] There are allegations that the violence was led and often perpetrated by Indian National Congress activists and sympathisers during the riots.[23] The chief weapon used by the mobs, kerosene, was supplied by a group of Indian National Congress Party leaders who owned filling stations.[48]

Corruption scandals

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.[51] It has been speculated that the scale of the scandal was to the tune of INR 400 million.[52]

In January 2011, an Income tax tribunal ruled that Rs. 412 million 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.[53]

2G spectrum scam

In 2010, in an audit report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India charged the Congress lead government of India with improperly managing the allocation of 122 2G spectrum licenses in 2008. The report charged that officials in the government received bribes from various telecommunications companies and that, as a result, the licenses were issued at a price well below their true value. In a 2012 judgement, the Supreme Court of India declared the process invalid and revoked the licenses that had been issued. The then minister for communications and information technology, A. Raja, a member of the DMK, a party that was a part of the Congress led governing alliance, was indicted for criminal conspiracy, forgery and cheating and the case against him is currently being tried.[54]

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[55] to help the party narrowly survive a no-confidence motion.[56] 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 to help secure the votes.[57]

Coal block allocation scam

The Coal allocation scam is a political scandal concerning the Indian government's allocation of the nation's coal deposits to public sector entities (PSEs) and private companies.[58] In a draft report issued in March 2012, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) office accused the Government of India of allocating coal blocks in an inefficient manner during the period 2004–2009, that resulted in a loss of INR1.860 trillion (US$31 billion) to the taxpayers.

See also

References

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

External links