The Indian National Congress (INC) is a major political party in India. It is the largest and oldest democratic political institution in the world. The Indian National Congress, which became the leader of the Indian Freedom Struggle, was established by Allan Octavian Hume, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, Surendranath Banerjee, Monomohun Ghose, Mahadev Govind Ranade and William Wedderburn in 1885. The party had 15 million members and over 70 million participants in its struggle against British rule in India.
After the country achieved independence in 1947, it became the nation's dominant political party, led by the Nehru-Gandhi family for the most part; major challenges for party leadership have only recently formed.
Development of Indian National Congress
The history of the Indian National Congress falls into two distinct eras:
* The pre-independence era- When the party was at the forefront of the struggle for independence and was instrumental in the whole of India;
* The post-independence era- When the party enjoyed a prominent place in Indian politics, ruling the country for 48 of the 60 years since independence in 1947.
In the pre-independence era, the Congress was divided in two groups, moderates and extremist. The Moderates were more educated and wanted to win people's faith to lead the nation to independence without bloodshed. The Extremists however wanted to follow a revolutionary path and make it a militant organisation. By 1907, the party was split into two halves: the Garam Dal (hot faction) of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, or Extremists, and the Naram Dal (soft faction) of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, or Moderates, distinguished by their attitude towards the British. Under the influence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Congress became the first integrated mass organization in the country, bringing together millions of people against the British. The Indian National Congress was the only political party to provide harmony to all the sects of the Indian society.
During this period, when the Indian National Congress led the freedom struggle, several great leaders emerged from the nation. Before the Gandhi Era came leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, all starting with the first legendary icon of Indians: Dadabhai Naoroji, the President of the Indian National Association and later the first Indian Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons.
The Congress was transformed into a mass movement by Surendranath Banerjee and Sir Henry Cotton during the Partition of Bengal in 1905 and the resultant Swadesi Movement. Gandhi came back from South Africa in 1915 and with the help of the moderate group led by Ghokhale became the President of the Congress and formed an alliance with the Khilafat Movement. In protest a number of leaders went out of Congress. Khilafat movement ended up in a disaster and the Congress was split. A number of leaders Chittaranjan Das, Annie Besant, Motilal Nehru, went out of the Congress to set up the Swaraj Party.
With the rise of Mahatma Gandhi's popularity and his Satyagraha art of revolution came Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Khan Mohammad Abbas Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Chakravarti Rajgopalachari, Jivatram Kripalani (Acharaya Kripalini)and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. With the already existing nationalistic feeling combined with Gandhi's popularity the Congress became a forceful mass organisation in the country, bringing together millions of people by specifically working against caste differences, untouchablity, poverty, and religious and ethnic boundaries. Although predominantly Hindu, it had members from virtually every religion, ethnic group, economic class and linguistic group.
Although predominantly Hindu, it had members from virtually every religion, ethnic group, economic class and linguistic group. At the time of the Quit India movement, the Congress was undoubtedly the strongest political and revolutionary organization in India. The Indian National Congress could claim to be the true representative of the Indian people. The 1929 Lahore session under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru holds special significance as in this session Purna Swaraj was declared as the goal of Indian National Congress. 26th January, 1930, was declared as the "Purna Swaraj Diwas". It was to commemorate this date particularly that The Constitution of Indiawas formally adopted on 26 January 1950.
In 1939, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the elected president in both 1938 and 1939 was expelled from the Congress for his socialist views and the Congress was reduced to a pro-Business group financed by the corporate personages like Birla and Bajaj. At the time of the Quit India movement, the Congress was undoubtedly the strongest political and revolutionary organization in India, but the Congress disassociated itself from the Quit India movement within a few days. Besides the Indian National Congress there were other political parties, like, the Hindu Mahasabha, Azad Hind Sarkar and All India Forward Bloc.
Policies and Programmes of Indian National Congress
Social policy of the Indian National Congress is based on Gandhian concept of Sarvodaya (upliftment of all sections of the society.) In particular Indian National Congress gives special emphasis on the welfare of the economically and socially disadvantaged sections of the society. This includes "affirmative action" reservations for weaker sections of the society in education and employment, emphasis on employment generation for rural population, through schemes such as National Rural Employment Generation Scheme, etc. The party supports family planning with birth control but opposes elective abortion, in particular sex selective abortions and late term abortions.
Economic Policy of Indian National Congress
Traditionally, Economic policy of the Indian National Congress focused on the importance of the public sector aimed at establishing a "socialistic pattern of society". However, since the economic liberalizations initiated by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister in the early 1990s, the economic policy of Indian National Congress has been changed somewhat and it is now committed to liberalization and market economy, though at the same time it is in favour of taking a careful approach in proceeding with liberalization to ensure that the weaker sections are not affected too hard by the liberalization process. Now in Indian National Congress, the young leaders came into emergence like Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada, Rahul Gandhi, Jotriyaditya Schindia, Jitendra Singh, Milind Deora and Manish Tewary for upliftment of India's future.