New Delhi

From Nehru to Nowhere

To bounce back in Indian politics, the Indian National Congress requires a new leadership, along with a new vision and well-thought-of strategy.

By Dr. Rajkumar Singh | June 2023

The Indian National Congress (INC), founded in Bombay in 1885, is one of the oldest and most prominent political parties in India. Having played a pivotal role in India›s struggle for independence from British colonial rule, the Congress party emerged as the dominant political force in the country after independence, and it has been in power at the national level for several decades. Currently, the Indian National Congress is the main opposition party, having lost power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 general elections and again in the 2019 general elections. Mapanna Mallikaarjun Kharge is currently the president of the Congress. He took charge of the party on October 26, 2022 and succeeded Sonia Gandhi, the longest serving president of the Indian National Congress.

In the last one decade in particular, the Congress party faced several challenges, mostly in the form of internal conflicts and a rapidly declining electoral support across the country, coupled with the lack of strong leadership. Most importantly, it has been struggling to connect with voters, particularly the young people, and has miserably lost ground to the BJP, which has successfully tapped into nationalist sentiments and fared quite well on the economic front.

Despite these challenges, the Indian National Congress remains an important player in Indian politics, and it continues to play a significant role in shaping public discourse on such key issues as economic reform, social justice, and secularism. The party has also formed alliances with other regional parties to contest elections in different states of India in a bid to become a potential power seeker at the central level in general and to oust the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in particular. The power contest between both parties is due in 2024 when the next elections for Lok Sabha will be held across the country.

In fact, the Indian National Congress was founded by a group of intellectuals and political leaders who were concerned about the political and economic status of India under British rule. The founding members of the Congress were Allan Octavian Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Pherozeshah Mehta, and some others. The primary aim of the Congress Party at the time of its formation was to provide a platform for the people of India to voice their concerns and grievances to the British government.

In the early years, the Congress party functioned mainly as a discussion forum and had limited political influence. In 1905, the British government announced the partition of Bengal, which sparked widespread protests and unrest across India. The Congress played a key role in organizing and leading the protests, which eventually led to the reversal of the partition.

Over the next few decades, the Congress Party emerged as the primary vehicle for India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. The party’s leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, led nonviolent protests, civil disobedience campaigns, and other forms of resistance against British rule. In August, 1947, India finally achieved independence, and the Congress formed the first government of independent India, with Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister of the country. Over the next few decades, the Congress party dominated Indian politics, winning several elections and implementing policies aimed at promoting social justice, economic development, and secularism.

Read More