The Indian National Congress is a broad-based political party in India. 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, with over 15 million members and over 70 million participants. The Congress led India to independence from Great Britain, and powerfully influenced other
anti-colonial nationalist movements in the British Empire. Rahul Gandhi became 6th President of Gandhi Family, & 18th President of AICC since 1947 Independece.
The 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 marginalized people. The party primarily endorses social liberalism — seeking to balance individual liberty and social justice, and secularism — asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings.
After India’s independence in 1947, the Congress formed the government at center in most instances, and many regional state governments. Congress became India’s dominant political party; as of 2015, in the 15 general elections since independence, it has won an outright majority on six occasions and has led the ruling coalition a further four times, heading the central government for 49 years. There have been seven Congress Prime Ministers, the first being Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–64), and the most recent Manmohan Singh (2004–14). Although it did not fare well in the last general elections in India in 2014, it remains one of two major, nationwide, political parties in India, along with the right-wing, Hindu nationalist, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)
Since the party was established in 1885, 60 people have served as president. The first, Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee, presided over the first session of the Indian National Congress held at Bombay in 1885 from 28 December to 31 December. The most recently serving president is Rahul Gandhi. The president of INC at the time of India’s independence was J. B. Kripalani. Annie Besant was the first woman president of INC whereas, Sarojini Naidu was the first Indian woman president. There are six members of Nehru–Gandhi family who have been Congress Presidents.
During 1885-1933, the presidency had a term of 1 year only. Traditionally, the post rotated between prominent members of the party, successive terms for the same person being frowned upon. During Jawaharlal Nehru’s premiership, he rarely held the Presidency of INC, even though he was always head of the Legislative Party. Indira Gandhi however, institutionalized the practice of having the same person as the Congress President and the Prime Minister after the first Congress split of 1969. Her son Rajiv Gandhi continued that practice.
Narasimha Rao, too held both the Congress President and the Prime Minister’s posts. Sitaram Kesri held the post after INC was voted out. But as the INC never returned to power under his leadership, he didn’t hold the two posts together.
During 2000-09, INC did not host a conference for the first time in history. In 2004, when the INC was voted back into power, Manmohan Singh became the first Prime Minister, not to be the president of the party. Sonia Gandhi is the longest serving president of the Congress party, having held the office for nineteen years from 1998 to 2017. Her son Rahul Gandhi is the current Congress President.
Rahul Gandhi became 6th President of Gandhi Family & 18th President of AICC since 1947
Rahul Gandhi currently serves as Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. He also currently serves as Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs.
He also serves as the Chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. He is the second-highest-ranked member of the Congress Working Committee. He also serves as Trustee of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. Gandhi formerly served as a general secretary in the All India Congress Committee.
Gandhi comes from the Nehru–Gandhi family. Due to security concerns, Gandhi constantly had to shift schools in his youth. He studied abroad under a pseudonym, his identity being known only to a select few including university officials and security agencies. After obtaining degrees in international relations and development studies at the universities of Rollins and Cambridge, Gandhi worked at the Monitor Group, a management consulting firm in London, before establishing the Mumbai-based technology outsourcing firm, Backops Services Private Ltd. In 2004, Gandhi re-entered public life when he ran for and won his father’s old Lok Sabha (lower house of Indian Parliament) seat of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. A few years later, in 2007, Gandhi was elected as the General Secretary of the Congress party, an executive post also held in the past by his father, Rajiv Gandhi and by his great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru. Amidst calls from Congress party veterans for his greater involvement in party politics and national government, Gandhi was elected Congress Vice-President in 2013.
Gandhi led the INC campaign in the 2014 Indian general election in which the party suffered its worst electoral result in its history, winning only 44 seats compared to 206 seats won previously in the 2009 general election.
In March 2004, Gandhi announced his entry into politics by announcing that he would contest the May 2004 elections, standing for his father’s former constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha. The Congress had been doing poorly in Uttar Pradesh, holding only 10 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state at the time. At the time, this move generated surprise among political commentators, who had regarded his sister Priyanka as being the more charismatic and likely to succeed. It generated speculation that the presence of a young member of India’s most famous political family would reinvigorate the Congress party’s political fortunes among India’s youthful population
Gandhi was appointed General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee on 24 September 2007 in a reshuffle of the party secretariat. In the same reshuffle, he was also given charge of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. In 2008, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily mentioned “Rahul-as-PM” idea when the PM of India Manmohan Singh was still abroad. He was elevated to the position of the vice-president of the party in January 2013.
In September 2007 when he was appointed general secretary in charge of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), Gandhi promised to reform youth politics. In his attempt to prove himself thus, in November 2008 Gandhi held interviews at his 12 Tughlak Lane residence in New Delhi to handpick at least 40 people who will make up the think-tank of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), an organisation that he has been keen to transform since he was appointed general secretary in September 2007.
Under Gandhi, the IYC and NSUI have seen a dramatic increase in members from 200,000 to 2.5 million. The Indian Express wrote in 2011, “Three years later, as another organisational reshuffle is in the offing, Gandhi’s dream remains unrealised with party veterans manipulating internal elections in the Youth Congress and a host of people with questionable background gaining entry into it.”
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi retained his Amethi seat by defeating his nearest rival by a margin of over 370,000 votes. Gandhi was credited with the Congress revival in Uttar Pradesh where they won 21 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats. He spoke at 125 rallies across the country in six weeks. The nationwide elections defied the predictions made by pre-poll predictions and exit polls and gave a clear mandate to the incumbent Congress-led UPA government.
In May 2011, Gandhi was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police at Bhatta Parsaul village after he turned out in support of agitating farmers demanding more compensation for their land being acquired for a highway project. Gandhi was taken away from the protest site and later given bail and dropped off at the Delhi-UP border.
2012 ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Gandhi campaigned during the 2012 Assembly elections in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh election for almost two months, holding 200 rallies. However Congress emerged as the fourth party in the state, winning 28 seats, an increase of six seats from the previous 2007 elections. Out of the 15 seats in the Amethi parliamentary constituency, Congress won 2 of the 15 seats.
Congress activists defended the result in Uttar Pradesh, saying “there’s a big difference between state elections and national polls and in the end there is only the first family, a hope and a prayer”,and pointing out the turn around attributed to Gandhi in the 2009 Lok Sabha national elections in the state. However, Rahul Gandhi publicly accepted responsibility for the result in an interview after the result was declared.
In the Gujarat assembly elections held later in the year, Gandhi was not made the head of the election campaign. This was seen and regarded by opponents as an admission of defeat and was termed as a tactic to avoid blame of defeat. Congress won 57 seats in the assembly of 182, which was 2 less than the previous elections in 2007. Later in bypolls, Congress lost 4 more seats to BJP.
WORST PERFORMANCE OF INC
Gandhi contested the Indian general election, 2014 from his constituency, Amethi and led the election campaign of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi held the Amethi seat by defeating his nearest rival, BJP’s Smriti Irani, by a reduced margin of 107,000 votes. Under his leadership, the Indian National Congress suffered its worst ever performance in elections and won only 44 seats compared to 206 seats won previously in the 2009 general election. The Congress-led electoral alliance, the UPA also had its worst ever performance in elections and won only 59 seats compared to 262 seats won previously in the 2009 general election. After the defeat, Gandhi offered to resign his posts, only to be rejected by the party’s working committee.
In December 2010 during the United States diplomatic cables leaked a cable dated 3 August 2009, where the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh had hosted a lunch on 20 July 2009 for Rahul Gandhi, then the General Secretary of the AICC. One of the guests who was invited for the lunch was the United States Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer. In a “candid conversation” with Roemer, he said that he believes Hindu extremists pose a greater threat to his country than Muslim militants. Rahul Gandhi referred specifically to more-polarising figures in the Bharatiya Janata Party. Also responding to the ambassador’s query about the activities in the region by the Islamist militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Rahul Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim population. In a response to this, the BJP heavily criticised Rahul Gandhi for his statements. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed Rahul Gandhi, saying that his language was a bigger threat to India, dividing the people of the country on communal grounds. Speaking to reporters, Prasad said, “In one stroke Mr. Rahul Gandhi has sought to give a big leverage to the propaganda to all the extremist and terrorist groups in Pakistan, and also some segments of Pakistani establishment. It would also seriously compromise India’s fight against terror as also our strategic security.” Adding that terrorism has no religion, he said that Rahul Gandhi had shown his lack of understanding India. Gandhi has also been critical of groups like the RSS and has compared them to terrorist organisations like SIMI.
After the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, at a Madhya Pradesh election rally in Indore, Rahul Gandhi claimed that a police officer has told him that Pakistan’s ISI was trying to recruit disgruntled riot-affected youngsters. However, the district administration, the UP state government, the Union Home Ministry, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) denied any such development. This remark drew heavy criticism from various political outifts such as BJP, SP, CPI and JD(U). Congress’s Jairam Ramesh said Gandhi needed to apologise to the Muslim community for this remark. In reply to the ECI’s show-cause notice to explain why action should not be initiated against him for violating the Model Code of Conduct, Gandhi said that he didn’t intend to exploit communal sentiments but was referring to divisive politics. The BJP also asked the government to explain why Gandhi, who holds no post in the government, is being briefed by intelligence officers on important security issues. On 13 November 2013, Election Commission of India finding Gandhi’s explanation to be insufficient conveyed its displeasure and advised him to be more circumspect in his public utterances during election campaigns.
Rahul Gandhi opines that the Lokpal should be made a constitutional body and it should be made accountable to the Parliament, just like the Election Commission of India. He also feels that Lokpal alone cannot root out corruption. This statement came out on 25 August 2011, on the 10th day of Anna Hazare’s fast. This statement was considered as a delaying tactic by the opposition and Team Anna’s members. It was consequently slammed by prominent opposition leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. The Parliamentary Standing Committee led by Abhishek Manu Singhvi tabled the Jan Lokpal Bill report in the Rajya Sabha on 9 December 2011. The report recommended the Lokpal to be made into a constitutional body. In response, Hazare attacked Rahul Gandhi, claiming he had made the bill “weak and ineffective”.
During a rally in Allahabad, Gandhi said “Poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty.” The phrase “state of mind” drew sharp criticism with BJP Uttar Pradesh spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak alleging him to be mocking the poor.
ORDIANCE OF CONVICTED LAWMAKERS
Rahul Gandhi, on “the convicted lawmakers ordinance” insisted that the ordinance is “complete nonsense” and “What our government has done is wrong”. This was expressed on September 26, 2013 in a press meet, when Rahul made a surprise visit to a press meet organised by Ajay Maken on the topic. The ordinance, earlier, was cleared by the government to negate a Supreme Court’s judgment that would have led to the ejection of convicted lawmakers.