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The Rediff Special / George Iype

April 08, 2004

 

Full name

The Indian National Congress

 

A bit of history

In 1885 retired British civil servant Allan Octavian Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji and others met in Mumbai, to form a 'congress of men and women to articulate the political aspirations of Indians.' Thus, the Indian National Congress was born, but it was not until the emergence of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi that it became a truly mass-based movement.

 

First president

W C Bonnerjee

 

Current president

Sonia Gandhi. Aka high command. Aka 10 Janpath, a reference to her postal address in New Delhi.

 

Why 'high command'?

Because she has the veto over every decision taken by the party; in fact, all important decisions -- and sometimes unimportant ones -- are taken only after her approval. She settles dispute among factions, finalises appointments to various posts and decides on election candidates.

 

After her, what?

There is the Congress Working Committee headed by Sonia Gandhi, which has 23 members, 12 permanent invitees and 21 special invitees.

 

How is the party actually run?

Office-bearers of the All Indian Congress Committee headed by her run the party. The AICC has a group of general secretaries, secretaries, one political secretary and a treasurer. Sixteen senior leaders are in charge of the party in various states. It also has various departments and cells on economic and foreign affairs, minorities, human rights, environment, science and technology, media, planning, police and political training.

 

The Congress parivar

Includes the Seva Dal, Mahila Congress, Indian Youth Congress, National Students Union of India and the Indian National Trade Union Congress.

 

Overseas presence

The Indian Overseas Congress based in London and a presence in other countries.

 

Congress-ruled states, Union Territories, provinces

Assam, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Pondicherry, Punjab and Uttaranchal. It was routed in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh late last year.

 

Numbers in Parliament

109 in the Lok Sabha and 64 in the Rajya Sabha.

 

Ideology

Originated without any well-defined ideology. But by the 1900s, self-rule was the motto. With Mahatma Gandhi came the drive towards total freedom. Its claims since independence of being a secular, socialist party etc have taken a beating, but to its credit it is trying to regain lost ground.

 

USP

Leading India's freedom movement. Its governments post-1947 played a key role in establishing the foundations of perhaps the most durable democratic political system in the developing world.

 

Stigma

Declaration of Emergency by Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975.

 

Strengths

Grassroots presence, with a nation-wide network down to the village level.

 

Weakness

Over-dependence on the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Personalization and centralisation of power in the party president.

 

Opportunities 

With a growing youth segment, and an ageing political leadership in all parties, now is the time for the Congress to reinvent itself through the infusion of fresh blood and ideas.

 

Challenge

How to mould itself to appeal to a young India.  The country today has some 600 million Indians under 30. The new voters know nothing about the Congress' role in leading the Independence movement or forging a modern India.

 

Photographs: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images | Image: Dominic Xavier


 

 



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India Votes 2004 | The Rediff Specials




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Number of User Comments: 16




Sub: The Indian National Congress

Gandhi family fully given there life to Indian National. There is no douct life is more costly then other.


Posted by burri





Sub: More insights

As others have pointed out it is not the same Congress Party that have taken part in independence. I would like to inform Dr Wajid ...


Posted by Jignesh





Sub: Know the congress

Divide and rule . You forgot to mention this. How congress cut powers of state goverments and formed new states in northern india. Leaving UP ...


Posted by gurpreet





Sub: Indian National Congress Overseas - History Question

When was the Indian National Congress Overseas established in London?


Posted by Lucia Graves





Sub: congratulation

dear sirs/madam congratulations for your and our leads in lok sabha election 2004 thats good result for the hard working of party president sonia gandhi ...


Posted by mahendra tiwari




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