The Indian National Congress first convened in December 1885, even though the idea of an Indian nationalist motion opposed to British rule dated from the 1850s. During its first several decades, the Congress Party handed fairly reasonable reform resolutions, although many within the organization had been becoming radicalized by the accelerated poverty that accompanied British imperialism. In the early 20th century, factors inside the party began to propose a policy of swadeshi (“of our own country”), which called on Indians to boycott imported British items and promoted Indian-made goods. By 1917 the group’s “extremist” Home Rule wing, which was shaped via Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant the preceding year, had begun to exert significantly have an impact by attractive to India’s various social classes.
In the 1920s and ’30s the Congress Party, led by using Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, started advocating nonviolent noncooperation. The new change in methods was precipitated through the protest over the perceived feebleness of the constitutional reforms enacted in early 1919 (Rowlatt Acts) and Britain’s manner of carrying them out, as suitable as by the big outrage amongst Indians in response to the massacre of civilians in Amritsar (Punjab) that April. Many of the acts of civil disobedience that observed have been carried out thru the All India Congress Committee, shaped in 1929, which advocated heading off taxes as a protest towards British rule. Notable in that regard used to be the Salt March in 1930 led via Gandhi. Another wing of the Congress Party, which believed in working inside the current system, contested regularly occurring elections in 1923 and 1937 as the Swaraj (Home Rule) Party, with specific success in the latter year, winning 7 out of 11 provinces.
When World War II started in 1939, Britain made India a belligerent besides consulting Indian elected councils. That action angered Indian officers and prompted the Congress Party to declare that India would no longer support the war effort till it had been granted complete independence. In 1942 the organization backed mass civil disobedience to help the demand that the British “quit India.” British authorities responded by imprisoning the complete Congress Party leadership, along with Gandhi, and many remained in jail till 1945. After the war, the British government of Clement Attlee handed an independence invoice in July 1947, and independence used to be achieved the following month. In January 1950 India’s constitution as an independent state took effect.
Postindependence Dominance of The Nehru Clan
From 1951 till his death in 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru dominated the Congress Party, which gained overwhelming victories in the elections of 1951–52, 1957, and 1962. The party united in 1964 to choose Lal Bahadur Shastri and in 1966 Indira Gandhi (Nehru’s daughter) to the posts of party chief and consequently prime minister. In 1967, however, Indira Gandhi confronted open rise up within the party, and in 1969 she was expelled from the party by a team called the “Syndicate.” Nevertheless, her New Congress Party scored a landslide victory in the 1971 elections, and for a duration, it was dubious which party was once the true rightful heir of the Indian National Congress label.
In the mid-1970s the New Congress Party’s popular support started to fracture From 1975 Gandhi’s government grew more and more extra authoritarian, and unrest amongst the opposition grew. In the parliamentary elections held in March 1977, the opposition Janata (People’s) Party scored a landslide victory over the Congress Party, winning 295 seats in the Lok Sabha (the decrease chamber of India’s parliament) closer to 153 for the Congress; Gandhi herself misplaced to her Janata opponent. On January 2, 1978, she and her followers seceded and shaped a new opposition party, popularly recognized as Congress (I)—the “I” signifying Indira. Over the subsequent year, her new party attracted sufficient members of the legislature to become the professional opposition, and in 1981 the national election fee declared it the “real” Indian National Congress. In 1996 the “I” designation used to be dropped. In November 1979 Gandhi regained a parliamentary seat, and the following year she was once as soon as again elected prime minister. In 1982 her son Rajiv Gandhi grew to become nominal head of the party, and, upon her assassination in October 1984, he became prime minister. In December he led the Congress Party to an overwhelming victory in which it secured 401 seats in the legislature.
Although the Congress Party remained the largest party in parliament in 1989, Rajiv Gandhi was as soon as unseated as prime minister by way of a coalition of opposition parties. While campaigning to regain electricity in May 1991, he was as soon assassinated via a suicide bomber associated with the Tamil Tigers, a separatist crew in Sri Lanka. He used to be succeeded as party leader by P.V. Narasimha Rao, who was once elected prime minister in June 1991.
The Party Since 1991
In distinction to the party’s historical socialist policies, Rao embraced financial liberalization. By 1996 the party’s image was struggling from a range of reviews of corruption, and in elections that year, the Congress Party was decreased to 140 seats, its lowest number in the Lok Sabha to that point, becoming parliament’s second-largest party. Rao as a result resigned as top minister and, in September, as party president. He was once succeeded as president through Sitaram Kesri, the party’s first non-Brahman leader.
The United Front (UF) government—a coalition of 13 parties—came to strength in 1996 as a minority government with the support of the Congress Party. However, as the largest single party in opposition in parliament after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP; Indian People’s Party), the Congress Party was necessary in both making and defeating the UF. In November 1997 the Congress Party withdrew its help from the UF, prompting elections in February 1998. To raise its popularity amongst the loads and improve the party’s overall performance in the imminent elections, the Congress Party leaders entreated Sonia Gandhi—the Italian-born widow of Rajiv Gandhi—to count on the leadership of the party. She had before declined overtures to play an lively role in party affairs, however at that time she agreed to campaign. Although a BJP-led coalition government came to power, the Congress Party and its partners had been able to deny the BJP an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. The party’s better-than-expected overall performance in the national elections was attributed by many observers to Sonia Gandhi’s charisma and energetic campaigning. After the 1998 elections, Kesri resigned as party president, and Sonia Gandhi assumed the leadership of the party.
National parliamentary elections were again held in 1999, when one of the BJP’s major allies, the All India Dravidian Progressive Federation (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) party, withdrew its support. Despite aggressive campaigning by means of its leaders, the Congress Party suffered a worse electoral overall performance than it had in 1996 and 1998, winning only 114 seats. Nevertheless, in the 2004 national elections, the party scored a stunning victory and back to power. Gandhi, however, declined an invitation to become prime minister and alternatively supported Manmohan Singh, a former finance minister, who in May 2004 became the country’s first Sikh prime minister. The party again surprised pundits in the 2009 parliamentary elections through growing its quantity of seats in the Lok Sabha from 153 to 206, it’s the best displaying since 1991.
By the 2014 Lok Sabha polling, however, the party had misplaced a great deal of its famous support, basically because of several years of poor financial conditions in the us of a and developing discontent over a collection of corruption scandals involving government officials. The party touted its record at passing regulation aimed at improving a lot of those living in poverty and rural areas, and it fielded Sonia’s son, Rahul Gandhi, to be its candidate for prime minister. However, the BJP and its leading candidate, Narendra Modi, successfully won over the electorate. The results of the elections, introduced in mid-May, have been an overwhelming electoral victory for the BJP whilst the Congress Party suffered a lovely loss, securing solely 44 seats in the chamber (in 2015 the party won a by-election in MP, growing its seat whole to 45). It was once the party’s worst-ever overall performance in a national election. One consequence of its bad overall performance was that it was now not in a position to expect the function of the legit opposition party, because it failed to garner the minimal 55 seats (10 percent of the chamber’s total) required for that role. Singh left office on May 26, the day Modi was sworn in as prime minister.
Sonia Gandhi stepped down from leadership in late 2017, and her son Rahul grew to become president of the Congress Party. He confronted a number of criticisms, consisting of that he, as the fourth era of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, was once elitist and lackluster. Within his party, he was once criticized for his outward show of devotion to Shiva, interpreted as an try to tap into the BJP’s appeal to Hindu populism. Some observers, however, believed that Gandhi’s show of Hindu devotion and his efforts to unite rival factions within the party helped the Congress Party outperform the BJP in the 2018 state elections held in the Hindu strongholds of MP, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Still, the Congress Party carried out only marginally higher in the 2019 elections for the Lok Sabha than it did in 2014, prompting Rahul to step down. Sonia was chosen to lead the party till a successor ought to be found.