Write a note on Indian National Congress Party.

In India, Indian National Congress even before independence has been a dominant political party. Indian National Congress continued to dominate Indian political scene from 1947 to 1967, when its hold somewhat weakened. In 1971, the hold of the party became again strong. But in 1977 the party lost not only at the centre but also in many northern states, where Janta Party came to power.

In 1980 and 1984 elections Congress again got itself saddled in power and authority. In 1989 the party again lost its hold but Narsimha Rao succeeded in forming Congress ministry. After 2004 elections it again gained power.

History of Indian National Congress Party:

History of Congress Party can be broadly characterized as that of splits and divisions on the one hand and then that of India’s freedom struggle and nation’s progress and advancement on the other. These splits occurred primarily because, though theoretically it was one party, yet practically it was party of parties. In its fold there were people of all shades and all sections of Indian society, who had conflicting and contradicting interests and view points. The organization has both the socialists as well as capitalists.

In the party there were conservatives as well as liberals, orthodox as well as those who wanted to bring about radical changes in the country as well as in the Party. The Party had in its fold both the working classes and employers and the people belonging to all castes and communities. In such an organization splits were likely to come because there was bound to be struggle for supremacy within the party itself on the one hand and between the party and the government on the other.

Differences in the party started just three months after independence when Congress President Acharya J.B. Kriplani resigned on the plea that he was not being consulted on important matters by the then Prime Minister. There differences deepend when Nehru’s choice of C. Raja Gopalachari as first President of the Republic and that of Kriplani as Congress President were not accepted and Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Purshottam Das Tandon were respectively elected as President of India and Congress Party President.

Differences so much deepend that in July 1951, both Nehru and Azad resigned from Congress Working Committee as they could not reconcile to the idea of Purshottam Das Tandon being the Party President. In October of the same year the latter also resigned from party president-ship of Congress.

The fighting in the Party continued when in 1950 some of the dissatisfied Congress members under the leadership of Acharya Kriplani formed a Democratic Group within the Party.

The aim of the group was to check increasing corruption. Subsequently this group called itself as Congress Democratic Party. This indiscipline came down to the state level, when some Party members in U.P. were expelled from the Party and they formed People’s Congress Party. In West Bengal P.C. Ghosh and his associates formed Krishak Praja Mazdoor Party with the object of forming a classless non-exploiting democracy.

Meanwhile there was mounting criticism within the Party that the Congressmen had become corrupt and a demand was made that a high power Commission should be set up to investigate charges of corruption against ministers and public servants. In 1963, several Congressmen in different states levied charges of corruption against their own Chief Minister i.e. Partap Singh Kairon, Bakshi Gulam Muhammad, Biju Patnaik and some others.

The pressure so much mounted that Das Commission was set up to investigate charges of corruption against Pratap Singh Kairon ex. C.M. of Punjab.

There was not only indiscipline in the party but allegation of corruption, nepotism, bribery, etc. were also eating the party from the very roots. There were serious internal differences in the party at every level. In 1955, the party directed all state units that everything should be done to check indiscipline and maintain purity in party ranks. In 1958, party decided that no party President or General Secretary shall hold office for more than two years.

The party became a source of attack by the opposition parties as well. There was increasing feeling in the Party that degeneration had started in the Party because all important Party persons had joined or were keen to join the government, both in the states and at the center.

Accordingly in 1963, Kamraj Plan was given to the Party which provided that the Prime Minister should spare some of the important leaders for Party work to give strength to Party. At the Center, National Front Government came to power. This single dominant party system has done some good to the society. It was due to this that political stability came in the country, which otherwise the nation would have lost. But at the same time the Congressmen took it for granted that India was for them to be governed and this created many problems as well.

The history of the Congress Party is in itself fall of many events. There have been splits after splits in the Party. Each split of course weakened the Party an some of the political parties even find their Origin from the main Congress organization. Even in Santa Party which dislodged Congress from power at the center in 1977 had under its folds many Congressmen. So is true about National Front which formed government at the center in 1989. The history of this old party which maximum influenced political life of India can be broadly studied under two broad categories namely:

  • History of the Party from the beginning till today and
  • Its policies and programs etc.

The Congress Party was founded in 1885 led the nation to the threshold of freedom in 1947. It was responsible for piloting several movements like Civil Disobedience, non Co-operation and Quit India. The Britishers transferred power to this Party, as at that time it was sole political party which represented Indian masses.

Muslim League having out of picture after the formation of independent and sovereign state of Pakistan. The Party had then under its folds all political leaders of national importance like Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel, G.B.. Pant etc. It had the guardiaunship of Mahatma Gandhi. The Mahatma Gandhi however, suggested at the time of independence that the Congress should be disbanded and it should not enter in political areas, but the advice of the old man was not heard.

Party after Nehru:

In 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru died and struggle in the party became more tense. It was a time when prices were rising and the people had not forgotten India’s debacle in war against China for which many had held Nehru responsible. But even then Nehru was undisputed leader of India on the one hand and Congress Party on the other.

After his death Lai Bahadur Shastri succeeded him as a Prime Minister, presumably he was considered light political weight. After Shastri’s session, January 11, 1966 struggle for supremacy in the party again started and this time leadership preferred Smt. Indira Gandhi, as nation’s Prime Minister over Morarji Desai, again perhaps considering a light political weight.

But soon she proved to be heavy political weight and differences between the Prime Minister and Party leader and President developed. In 1967, fourth general election were held in the country. At that party was completely disorganized. In every state there were dissidents who had left the party and joined opposition parties. Charges of corruption etc. were frequently levied against Ministers and highly placed public servants.

The performance of the party was found quite unsatisfactory both on social and economic fronts. There was acute struggle for leadership, and grabbing more and more powers. The result of all this was that Congress Party received serious set back in 1967 elections. It had much reduced of all its strength in the Lok Sabha and lost majority on seven states, where opposition parties formed government.

In the party itself serious rifts came and within the party. Younger elements formed Congress Socialist Forum and called themselves as Young Turks. In order to win the confidence of the people the Congress Party gave ten point program which among other things promised minimum needs for the community. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia brought unity opposition parties which ended Congress domination.

As a result of 1980 elections, Congress was returned to power and many Congressmen who had left her again joined the organization and promised to allow her policies and programs. Her opponents, in the party received serious setback. She established her absolute supremacy both in the government and in the party.

In 1984 general elections were again held in the country. Congress under the leadership of her son Rajiv Gandhi was returned to the Lok Sabha. 3/4 majority. He established his absolute control over the government and the party. The party however, lost at the Center in 1989 election and later on B.J.P. formed government with the help of other parties called N.D.A. Similarly Congress formed U.P.A. government with the outside support of communists, Lalu Prasad Yadava, Paswan and Karunanidhi (D.M.K.) etc.

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